Five open-government champs

As the nation celebrates Sunshine Week, a week highlighting the importance of open government, it is a good time to reflect on lawmakers in Texas who are helping to improve transparency and protect the state's strong Public Information Act.

Source: Five open-government champs

BILL KETTER: The press and the public are tied together

In our system of self-government, the people and the press are tied together. The news media’s role is to serve as a surrogate for citizens in holding public officials accountable, and for opening shut doors and locked file cabinets that inhibit the free flow of information.

That’s why hundreds of newspapers, radio and TV stations, cable news channels and online outlets are celebrating the 11th annual Sunshine Week across the country through Sunday.  It is important that we explain how the work we do on the public’s behalf is important.

Sunshine week reminds that open-government rights are never secure - The Galveston County Daily News: Free

Today, we assume the natural order of things to be just the opposite.

We assume the state has no general right to exclude the people from the details and records of government and must make a case and meet a burden of proof to do so.

The trouble is, we also tend to assume that once the laws have been passed and rights widely recognized, things will tick along like a good watch forever after.

County required to pay newspapers’ attorney's fees

Visiting Judge Larry Wagenbach denied a motion Monday that would have required the Fort Bend Herald to pay thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees for the release of information deemed to be public record. The decision means The Herald is eligible to receive attorney’s fees from Fort Bend County if county officials do not appeal the judge’s decision.

Congress eyes changes to records law - Longview News-Journal - Longview, TX

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House approved legislation Monday making it easier to obtain government records, as a new congressional report concluded that the freedom of information process under the Obama administration is broken and in need of serious change.

The bill, approved by a voice vote, would require government agencies to make information available to the public online. It also would require agencies to adopt a presumption in favor of disclosing records rather than keeping them secret.

Alamo Colleges appeals to AG on agreement with ex-president - San Antonio Express-News

In response to a formal Public Information Act request submitted Dec. 17, the Alamo Colleges last week sent a letter to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asking to withhold the agreement from the public. According to the letter, signed by Alamo Colleges attorney Roxella T. Cavazos, the separation agreement stipulates that if a public records request for the document is made, the community college district will request the attorney general’s opinion.