S.99 – Creating the Office of FOIA Review
S.99 creates a new judicial branch under the Administrative Law Court that would oversee Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) appeals and challenges, and would institute a number of reforms to current FOIA law. Some of the positive reforms include capping search fees and deposit requirements, and slightly reducing the required response time to a FOIA request.
Negative changes include turning FOIA violations into a civil rather than criminal offense, and allowing public bodies to seek relief from “unduly burdensome, overly broad, vague, repetitive, or otherwise improper requests.” These highly subjective terms would provide ample cover to public bodies seeking to skirt the law and therefore violate the entire spirit of the FOIA law. Finally, the need for a new government office to handle these complaints is highly debatable as they are currently handled quite well by the existing courts.