Forward progress worth noting

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The goal line is in sight, but still distant. The defense continues to hold its ground and the grueling, grudge match continues in Jackson.

Fans watch with excitement from every corner of the state.

In a game of inches, the battles are almost constant and a lightning fast offense isn’t a reality.

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The fight for improved access to public records in Mississippi is a slow, grinding ground game.

In the latest skirmish aimed at shedding more light on government records, open-government proponents are claiming a mini-victory after House Bill 113 cleared both chambers of the state Legislature and is headed for the governor’s desk to become law.

The bill would give the public slightly quicker access to records requests.

Government entities would be required to respond to information requests within seven working days, rather than the current 14 days.

Complicated requests — ones requiring substantial manpower to honor, for example — could be allowed up to 14 days, provided the entity informed the requestor of the delay.

The bill is minor in scope, but it addresses an important stall tactic some agencies can use to delay requests.

And that’s enough to do a bit of mid-game celebration.

House Bill 113 is positive yardage toward the goal of completely open, transparent government in Mississippi, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not even a first down.

We hope that during the next legislative session, the state addresses the lack of teeth in enforcement of the state’s open records and open meetings laws. That would be a touchdown for the side of openness.