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FOIA Reform Legislation Approved

The House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census and National Archives approved the Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 2007 (H.R. 1309), comprehensive legislation to reform the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO-1) introduced H.R. 1309 on March 5, 2007, to promote openness in government by strengthening section 552 of title 5, United States Code (commonly referred to as the Freedom of Information Act), and for other purposes. Co-sponsors include Rep. Todd Russell Platts (R-PA-19) and Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA-30).

As of March 6, 2007, H.R. 1309 has been referred to the full Committee. The ALA is monitoring this legislation and will release an action alert and update when a hearing is scheduled.

Also on March 5, 2007, a very similar bill, HR. 1326, was introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX-21). This bill differs from H.R. 1309 in that it maintains the White House’s “policy of nondisclosure” outlined in a 2001 memo by former Attorney General John Ashcroft. This policy change reversed a Clinton administration policy that urged agencies to resolve FOIA requests by erring on the side of releasing, not withholding government records.

Read H.R. 1326 introductory remarks.

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Jacob Roberts is the communications specialist for the ALA Washington Office.

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