Today, most media eyes are on Washington, D.C. following the news (or lack thereof) of a possible deal to prevent a federal government shutdown. But as House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid go back and forth in press conferences, there was “meat and potatoes” work being done on the Hill.
The Senate Judiciary Committee met today, referring several bills and judicial nominations to the Senate floor. Among those bills passed were two of particular interest to freedom of information and open government-access watchers.
S410, the Sunshine in the Courtroom Act, passed 12-6. The measure would permit broadcasting, televising and other recording of court proceedings in federal appellate or district courts. However, it’s not a blanket mandate, as written. The bill gives discretion to a presiding judge to authorize such activities. It’s sponsored by Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley. Read the bill text and summary.
S627, sponsored by Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy, would expedite Freedom of Information Act requests made of federal agencies. Called the Faster FOIA Act, the bill would create a commission to examine processing delays in records requests. The commission would also explore why use of federal government FOIA exemptions in denying records requests increased in fiscal year 2009. Read the bill text and summary.
SPJ and the Freedom of Information Committee will follow the progress of both bills.
- Scott Leadingham