One of the bigger issues for freedom of information at the state and local level is the question of whether a unit of government can be allowed to enter into a contract with a union that asserts that some records are off-limits.
This is relevant in Wisconsin, because our state legislature entered into a contract with the Wisconsin State Employees Union under which the legislature agreed to redact certain types of information about public employees if and when anyone requested the information.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and another newspaper sued, and an opinion from an appeals court this week requests a review from the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
The Milwaukee newspaper wanted a list of state employees who were no longer allowed to drive state vehicles, and the Lakeland Times wanted a list of DNR employees in its distribution area. Both lists were forbidden by the agreement the legislature had entered into with the union; however, this contract seems to impinge on Wisconsin’s open records law.