Residents of five Midwestern states do not enjoy the same access to government records and meetings that is available in most other states, according to a study by the Elmhurst, Ill.-based Citizen Advocacy Center (CAC). Open government laws in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota include systemic barriers to public access, according to the CAC study, which was conducted in celebration of Sunshine Week (March 15-21).

In each state, Freedom of Information and Open Meetings Acts are sporadically enforced, there is no government office with statutory authority to oversee the laws, state employees may be unintentionally violating the laws due to lack of training, and there is little opportunity for residents to participate in public meetings. CAC drew those conclusions after studying each state's laws, more than 1,000 legal cases, attorney general opinions and professional publications. "Without forceful sunshine laws, the public can not fully participate in the democratic process, knowledgably discuss issues of public concern, make informed judgments about the actions of elected officials or monitor government to make sure it's acting in their interest," said CAC Executive Director and Community Lawyer Terry Pastika in a statement.

View the entire CAC report as a PDF.

Related Stories