-By Warner Todd Huston
Transparency, shmansparency. Once again we see a government doing its level best to keep you, the people, from being able to find out what it is that government is doing to you. This time it is in failing Illinois where lawmakers are trying to make it much, much harder to fulfill a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
Yes, your representatives in the Illinois legislature–Republican and Democrat alike–don’t want you to be able to find out what they are doing in Springfield. Imagine that.
The bill (HB 3796) would make it extremely costly to file for an FOI request allowing the government to charge up to $100 per request and would also give the government even more time to fulfill requests for information.
As the Better Government Association points out, the $100 per request fee “effectively prices low income people out of the public records market.”
The bill passed both the Democrat controlled House and Senate earlier this year, but interestingly, our most liberal governor already vetoed this bill once sending it back to the House. But don’t just blame Democrats. A lot of Republicans voted to hide their work from you, too. (See the roll call for the initial vote here)
The BGA also reported that the bill got little debate and is little understood by lawmakers. “[HB 3796] sailed through both legislative chambers in just six days, which is not enough time for a thorough vetting of its content, objectives and potential consequences,” the government watchdog group wrote on November 17.
As far as sponsors go, along with 2 House Democrats and three Senate Dems, the Republican Senator co-sponsoring HB 3796 is Pam Althoff, the former mayor of McHenry, Illinois. Althoff was elected to the state senate in 2004 and served an appointment to an empty seat for a year before that. The Republican sponsor in the House of Reps is liberal Ed Sullivan, Jr of the 51st District (Mundeline) who is also known for being the first Republican to support same-sex marriage in Illinois.
Althoff is also notorious for making worse a fiat tax (Senate Bill 1555) that allows cities to create “Special Service Areas” to soak property owners with higher taxes. These SSAs allow cities to summarily impose confiscatory property taxes on property owners who municipalities want to fund infrastructure projects (roads and repairs, sewers, etc.).
Essentially, Althoff gave cities the power to simply declare these “Special Service Areas” and immediately begin to soak property owners with higher taxes. The bill allows cities to impose these SSAs with no hearings, no ballot measures, and no notice to residents. The bill then puts the onus on the citizens to petition the government to cancel the SSA designation to stop the taxes already levied (but won’t force government to refund any higher taxes already charged and paid).
So, as you can see, Senator Althoff is a lover of a big, all-powerful government that treats citizens as vassals and a lower form of life.