Worries over secrecy grow as state officials shield records from the public


Just weeks after lawmakers in Little Rock passed legislation shielding certain state records from public disclosure, opponents launched an effort to amend the Arkansas Constitution to protect access to government documents.

“The coalition that’s coming together on this is about as broadly bipartisan as you could get — from the extreme, extreme right to the hard, hard left and all the way in between,” said Nate Bell, a Republican-turned-independent and member of Arkansas Citizens for Transparency, which is pushing the constitutional amendment. “Folks who’ve been bitter political enemies for decades have joined together on this.”

Arkansas is one of several states this year that made more information secret by altering public records laws, often known as Freedom of Information Acts, or FOIAs. State officials say they are being overwhelmed with records requests, sometimes meant to harass lawmakers.

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