Monday, January 25, 2010

Delaware House Committee Adds Teeth to FOIA

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Delaware's Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA")[29 Del. C. Secs. 10001-10005] may soon impose a time limit within which state government agencies must respond to document requests.

State Rep. Brad Bennett (D-Dover) introduced H.B. 300 that requires agencies to respond to document request within 10 business days.  If additional time is necessary because the request is voluminous, the records are archived, or the agency wants to consult with counsel, a response must still be forthcoming within the 10-day deadline stating additional "reasonable" time is required. Many states impose a 5-day or 7-day FOIA requestcompliance deadline, but the proposed Delaware time period is half the 20 days permitted under the federal FOIA [5 U.S.C. sec. 552].

Passage of the measure by the House Administration Committee means the full House will vote on H.B. 300. Delaware's FOIA presently fixes no time frame for agencies to answer public requests, which has led to charges of foot-dragging by state agencies in complying with FOIA demands.
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