Sunday, October 24, 2010

Demozette Hits Hard on Game and Fish FOIA End-Run

When the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and I agree on something, it normally means that.....well, it happens so seldom that there is no "normal" but I think it means that the issue is so common-sense that even folks who see the world from different premises can still agree.

It seems that newspapers don't like state agencies trying to write their own version of the Freedom of Information Act any more than bloggers do. "Game and Fish agency looks to bypass law" read the page one headline. That headline is loaded, but accurate. The AGFC's idea is that since they are a constitutionally independent agency, they are not subject to the legislature's version of the FOIA and get to craft their own. I can't agree. They are independent in the areas that amendment 35 grants them independence, and that is managing the state's wildlife. The other rules apply to all entities which get taxpayer funds.

The whole thing brings into question whether or not the SGFC has too much power under amendment 35. I believe that they do, and that the so-called "Right to Hunt" amendment only strengthens their hand, since it explicitly affirms their right to regulate hunting. If it passes and people later decide that they want to whittle down some of the commission's vast constitutional power, we will not have to overturn one constitutional amendment, but two.


Anonymous RockThisTown said...

This would be a good time to repeal or replace Amdmt. 35 and end the agency "independence" of the AGFC. Problem is, it's too late to get it on the ballot this year. By the time it could be put on the ballot, the firestorm will have mostly subsided.

Anytime a government agency, elected official, employee thereof, or practically anyone who receives money from the government wants to scale back the FOIA, the media goes bananas, and rightfully so. My belief is that AGFC changed their minds about it was due to Beebe's opinions, rather than the squawking that was coming from the media. Beebe wields quite a big stick in state government, and few, if any, are brave enough to cross him. Moreover, Beebe gets a pass in the media on what would have been PR nightmares for Huck (double-dipping elected officials, state vehicle fiasco, the Development Center lawsuit, lottery scholarship denials for qualified applicants, to name a few)

7:50 AM, October 26, 2010  

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