Thursday, June 16, 2016

DC Open Government Coalition: "Council Can’t Claim FOIA 'Speech or Debate' Exemption"

Click on the link to read the entire DC Open Government Coalition.

Council Can’t Claim FOIA "Speech or Debate” Exemption 
The D.C. high court ruled June 9 that an obscure law doesn’t work as an almost total exemption for the D.C. Council from the broad public access requirements of the District’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), extended by the Council to cover itself in 2000.
The law, known as the Legislative Privilege Act, is copied from similar language in the United States Constitution known as the "speech and debate clause" (Article I, Sec. 6) that protects Members of Congress and staff from lawsuits about what they say in their legislative function.
The D.C. version, passed in 1975, says that “For any speech or debate made in the course of their legislative duties, the members of the Council shall not be questioned in any other place.”
Kirby Vining asked the Council for records that were any type of communications of Council Member Kenyan McDuffie with a proposed developer and the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board concerning the 25-acre McMillan Sand Filtration Site (in McDuffie’s Ward 5 district) on North Capitol Street just south of the MedStar and Veterans hospital complex.

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