Monday, August 20, 2007

Kyl, aka 'Sen. Secret,' relents on open gov't bill

AZ's Jon Kyl, aka Sen. Paranoid

WASHINGTON -- Proponents of strengthening the federal Freedom of Information Act reached an accord with extreme right-winger Arizona Sen. John Kyl earlier this month, and he lifted his once-secret hold on the bill, dubbed the OPEN Government Act.

The bill was immediately passed by the Senate Aug. 6 on a unanimous vote.

It's now in conference committee being reconciled with a House version of the bill that passed in March.

The OPEN Government Act will protect the public's right to know, by ensuring that anyone who gathers information to inform the public, including freelance journalists and bloggers, may seek a fee waiver when they request information under FOIA.

The bill ensures that federal agencies will not automatically exclude blogs and other web-based media when deciding to waive FOIA fees.

Kyl had objected to several provisions of the bill, including the definition of who's a journalist in order to qualify for reduced copying fees.

Any senator can put a hold on a bill. The hold remains until the senator chooses to let go. The holds are usually secret but the outrage over a secret hold on an openness bill quickly led to Kyl being outed and labeled "Sen. Secret" by several bloggers.

President Bush is expected to sign the bill.

- adapted from Mark B. Evans

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