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Arkansas Press Association forms Ballot Question Committee in support of Arkansas Government Disclosure Amendment & Act

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The Arkansas Press Association today filed a ballot question committee, Arkansans for a Free Press, to help pass the Arkansas Government Disclosure Amendment & Act of 2024.

The nonpartisan committee will work alongside Arkansas Citizens for Transparency in its efforts to preserve open meetings, records and notices.

The committee is composed of current and former newspaper publishers, as well as Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) attorneys, persons in academia and other longtime supporters of FOIA. The committee was formed so those who use or have used FOIA in their everyday careers can play a bigger role in the passage of these vital initiatives.

Serving as the committee’s chair is Maurice “Buddy” King. Other officers are: Jane Dunlap Christenson, vice chair; Michael Brown, secretary, and James L. “Skip” Rutherford, treasurer. Also on the committee are John E. Tull, Gerald Jordan, Ellen F. Kreth, Ronald E. Kemp, Scott Loftis, N. Andrew Bagley, James L. Holland, Robert Steinbuch, Renette Smith McCargo, Thomas L. White and James “Rusty” Fraser.

APA Executive Director Ashley Kemp Wimberley will serve in an advisory capacity.

“I am honored to serve as chair of this committee of longtime supporters and friends of the Arkansas journalism community,” King said. “While some of us have very different political views, this is not a political campaign. FOIA is non-partisan by nature and should be important to every citizen of Arkansas. It is a tool that has to be in place to sustain community journalism and democracy.”

“Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller signed the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act into law in 1967, and, at the time, said, ‘We have taken the government out of the smoke-filled rooms and returned it to the people,’” Wimberley said. “Not long after, Arkansas Supreme Court Associate Justice George Rose Smith wrote in an opinion, ‘It is vital in a democratic society that public business be performed in an open and public manner.’ Every Arkansan has the right to know what their government is doing.

“To that end, the Arkansas Government Disclosure Amendment will enshrine the principles of freedom of information in the Arkansas State Constitution, and the Arkansas Government Disclosure Act contains the proposed policies to support those principles.”

The Arkansas Government Disclosure Amendment & Act have been endorsed by Alabama Press Association, American Court and Commercial Newspapers, America’s Newspapers, Illinois Press Association, Iowa Newspaper Association, Kansas Press Association, Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association, Minnesota Newspaper Association, Mississippi Press Association, Missouri Press Association, Montana Press Association, Nebraska Press Association, Nevada Press Association, Newspaper Association Managers, New York Publishers Association, Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association, South Carolina Press Association, South Dakota NewsMedia Association, Tennessee Press Association, Utah Press Association, West Virginia Press Association, Wisconsin Newspaper Association and Wyoming Press Association.

The full text of the proposed constitutional amendment can be found at https://arcitizens4transparency.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/CA-A-3.pdf

The full text of the proposed initiated act can be found at https://arcitizens4transparency.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/Act-5.pdf

Donations in support of the Arkansans for a Free Press Committee may be mailed to P.O. Box 2257, Little Rock AR 72203.

Heather Pedersen

Heather Pedersen (125)

“Love is never wasted, for its value does not rest upon reciprocity.” -C.S. Lewis

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