The Rome News-Tribune reports that the Republican led assault on the press & the public's right to know continues.
The Rome News-Tribune
March 18, 2005
Georgia [is] increasingly [facing] a partial eclipse of the sun regarding the illumination of the doings of public officials and bodies.
[I]n Georgia, the good news on the “public’s right-to-know front,” such as it is, involves mostly the bad things that didn’t happen — yet.
The universally condemned House Bill 218, which would allow government negotiations with industries to be exempted from open-records laws and kept secret, was put in limbo by the Senate after passing the House. The public should beware, however. This doesn’t mean it won’t, like a zombie, stalk the Golden Dome again.
This year’s General Assembly session is the first of a two-year term for this legislature and anything that passes one chamber remains “alive” for consideration in the second year.
At the same time, the Republican-led propaganda war against the public becoming knowledgeable and against those who assist citizens in such learning — namely newspapers and other media — went on unabated. Some of the measures introduced appear to be more intended for “nuisance value” than serious efforts to make law, but certainly stranger things have been passed by the Republicans already this year.
Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, followed up on an earlier threat and introduced SB 279. It would require reporters to register with the state as lobbyists. It would include as a lobbyist:
“Any natural person who covers or reports on legislation or legislative sessions of the General Assembly on behalf of any newspaper, radio or television station, wire service, news service, or other media outlet.”
Mullis [seems] to believe that an interest in public affairs and the public purse is an unnatural one . . . .
More disturbing still is House Bill 684, sponsored by Reps. Mark Hatfield, R-Waycross, and Barry Fleming, R-Harlem, that would let agencies demand written requests for public records. According to its supporters, public employees are simply being overwhelmed by requests for such information that, for the record, actually come about 1 percent from the media and 99 percent from the general public.
As it is, public bodies are already allowed to charge for the time/expense of honoring such a request and some are known to ask for rather exorbitant sums. How hard is it, really, in this electronic age to hit the “print” button?
The true problem is not too much access to public records but actually the opposite. Recently an Atlanta newspaper tested the waters by making a relatively simple request of law-enforcement agencies for their crime statistics, which they are required to keep and give to federal authorities.
Almost half of the police departments failed to respond to the request.