Lawmaker suggests fines for FOIA violators

SPRINGFIELD (AP) — A lawmaker suggests imposing fines on government agencies that violate open-records laws.
Rep. Jack Franks is a Marengo Democrat who sponsored a 2010 law creating a public access counselor in the attorney general’s office to referee disputes over what records should be public. He says fining agencies that flout the law could help reduce a backlog of appeals over denied public-records.
The Associated Press found that the counselor has 2,800 unresolved appeals on Freedom of Information Act requests out of 15,000 received. Nearly 1,200 are at least two years old.
There’s no money in the state budget to add lawyers to review the cases. Franks says maybe FOIA violators should be fined to reduce appeals.
Ann Spillane of the attorney general’s office says the majority of cases have been resolved.