Senate Bill 155 would set back open-government initiatives

Delaware State News | Letter to the Editor | by Rep. John Kowalko

A few Delaware legislators working with the Department of Justice seem to be interested in further denying the public and media access to its contrivances and methods.

Lifting the shroud of secrecy and exposing the horrible underbelly of the “Delaware Way” is facing another serious challenge that threatens the public interest. It is Senate Bill 155, a thinly veiled attempt to shutter the windows from public view.

My primary focus during my entire 15 years in office has been on good government, government transparency and the public’s right to know and question decisions that have been made by elected officials and government agencies. I can say with certainty that many of my colleagues have consistently supported open and transparent government with the public’s right to know paramount in their focus.

SB 155 was recently released from a Senate committee. I, along with Delaware Coalition for Open Government members and others, have conducted an extensive review of this proposal and have concluded that this bill as currently written will set back Delaware’s efforts to be more inclusionary and, in fact, impose restrictions on legitimate Freedom of Information Act access that will move Delaware’s ability to view to public records backward. I’ve enlisted the support of my son, an attorney in the Washington, D.C., area, to thoroughly review SB 155. My son, John, has worked with me on FOIA issues for many years, and his knowledge of FOIA laws in Delaware and other states is quite extensive. He has composed an accurate and detailed assessment of the proposed legislation enunciating the failings and additional restrictions on Delawareans’ and the media’s access to public records. I strongly encourage you to read John’s report in its entirety and demand that this bill be rejected.

Rep. John Kowalko, D-Newark

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