An Arkansas Freedom of Information Act Training Symposium for government officials and the public will be held Nov. 5, from 1-3 p.m. in the First National Bank Arena auditorium. The event is hosted by Arkansas Municipal League, Quattlebaum, Grooms & Tull PLLC, and Arkansas State University School of Media and Journalism. A panel will provide an overview of FOIA requirements and answer questions about fulfilling FOIA requests.
Speakers include Jenna Adams, litigation counsel, Arkansas Municipal League; Christoph Keller, litigation associate, Quattlebaum, Grooms & Tull PLLC; William C. Mann III, senior litigation counsel, Arkansas Municipal League; Lanny Richmond II, code and opinions counsel, Arkansas Municipal League; and John Tull III, managing member, Quattlebaum, Grooms & Tull PLLC.
Jeff Hankins, vice president for strategic communications for the ASU System and vice chair of the Arkansas FOIA Task Force, will moderate the discussion.
Passed in 1967, the state’s FOIA laws give citizens access to public records and public meetings with a few exceptions, according to the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office. A public record is defined as anything in writing, sound, of video.
Records that are maintained by public employees that are directly tied to their jobs, with a few exceptions, are public records that can be subject to FOIA requests. Government entities typically have up to three days to comply with a request, can charge for the actual cost of reproducing the record. An example might be if the record has to be copied.
The law also requires government entities to notify the media if a meeting is slated to be held. Government entities must conduct the meeting in public, but can go into an executive session to consider employment, appointment, promotion, demotion discipline or resignation of an employee or officer, the law states.