Rep. Bill Taylor’s efforts to make public information more attainable by South Carolinians advanced Thursday, but it has also gained a powerful ally.
The bill unanimously advanced to the full Judiciary Committee from its subcommittee. Taylor, R-Aiken, introduced the bill to broaden accessibility to public records by reducing costs and waiting periods for Freedom of Information Act requests.
But before the vote, Taylor met with Gov. Nikki Haley on Tuesday afternoon and discussed her interest in the bill.
“We agreed that we are in sync with it,” Taylor said “She pledged to help move it through the Senate.”
Taylor added that Haley viewed his bill as a good fit with a package of ethics reforms currently being pushed in Columbia.
“We value working with State Rep. Bill Taylor and agree with the merits of his FOIA bill but also believe it should end the Legislature’s exemption – open records laws should apply to everyone,” said Haley Spokesman Rob Godfrey Thursday afternoon.
The bill looks to set more specific rules about what state agencies and public bodies can charge for providing public documents and deadlines for producing them.
Last year, Taylor’s bill passed the house, but after many additions and alterations, died in the Senate.
However, the current bill, Taylor believes, has a good chance as it is “moving very swiftly – and it’s only February.”
Taylor hopes it will make it to the House floor in a few weeks and then be passed to the Senate.
Locally, there is support from Senators, but they are wary of the integrity of the bill being lost.
“Based on what I know about it right now, I would vote for it,” Sen. Tom Davis said Thursday. “I will have to see what form it is in when it comes up for a vote in the Senate when that time comes.”
Sen. Shane Massey expressed similar support for Taylor’s bill, conceptually.
“I applaud Rep. Taylor’s effort on this, and I definitely support the concept,” said Sen. Shane Massey. “We’ve had abuses by state government and local government not providing documents to the public at a reasonable cost and in a reasonable time. I definitely support it in its current form.”