open meetings

Several drafters of a proposed constitutional amendment to enshrine the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act in the state Constitution participated in a public forum in Little Rock on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023. From left: attorney David Couch, Arkansas Press Association Executive Director Ashley Wimberley, Democratic state Sen. Clarke Tucker, attorney Jen Standerfer and former independent state representative Nate Bell. (Tess Vrbin/Arkansas Advocate)

Proposed FOIA law would provide needed help for citizens denied access to public records, meetings

BY: - November 20, 2023

The cause of government transparency in Arkansas took a significant step in the right direction last week.  The group that hopes to make government transparency a constitutional right for Arkansans released a separate proposal on Monday that would amend state law to, among other things, define a “public meeting” and create an Arkansas Government Transparency […]

Rep. David Ray, R-Maumelle

Arkansas Freedom of Information Act gets new focus from state’s attorney general

BY: - June 14, 2023

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin has named seven people to advise his office on ways to modernize the state’s Freedom of Information Act. “The last time FOIA was modernized, the iPhone hadn’t been invented yet,” Griffin said in a press release announcing the formation of an FOIA Review Working Group. “Since then, the use of […]

Reps. Mary Bentley and Rick Beck

Anti-transparency measure withers in Arkansas Senate committee

BY: - April 4, 2023

First, the good news: Rep. Mary Bentley’s bill narrowing what counts as a public meeting failed on a voice vote in a Senate committee Tuesday. That effectively kills it for this session. I hope. Thanks to the government transparency debate her legislation sparked, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the ambiguity in the Arkansas […]


A win for keeping the public in public meetings in Arkansas

BY: - March 16, 2023

Government transparency supporters in Arkansas won a skirmish Wednesday in a long-running battle over the public’s right to know. An Arkansas House committee, on a split voice vote, rejected proposed legislation that defined a public meeting as a quorum of a city, county or school district governing body or other state boards or commissions.  House […]

Rep. Mary Bentley (R-Perryville) at a legislative hearing in February. (Photo by John Sykes/Arkansas Advocate)

Gutting Arkansas’ open meetings law

BY: - March 14, 2023

I spoke too soon. Yesterday, I published a hopeful opinion piece about legislation that, if passed, would enhance the public’s right to know enshrined in Arkansas’ 56-year-old Freedom of Information Act. One of those bills, Senate Bill 382, would define what a public meeting is. As I noted in Monday’s column, the FOIA doesn’t specify […]


Sunshine breaks through? Three bills cast a ray of hope

BY: - March 13, 2023

Just in time for Sunshine Week come several bills affecting Arkansas’ landmark Freedom of Information Act.  Usually, legislative proposals involving the FOIA seek to remove more records or government activity from public scrutiny, not make things more transparent. In fact, a couple such bills have been filed in the current session. But I’d like to […]