Delaware bill would establish deadline for FOIA requests

    One Delaware legislator wants the first state to get serious in releasing information. House Bill 300 would set a deadline for government entities and other public bodies to respond to Freedom of Information requests.

    A Delaware lawmaker wants to speed up the process regarding Freedom of Information requests in the First State.

    State Representative Brad Bennett (D-Dover South) has proposed a bill that would require Delaware government officials to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests within 10 business days.

    Bennett says the bill improves the FOIA bill passed earlier this year and would help the state go from “one of the least transparent states to one of the more transparent states.”

    Currently, state law does not include any time limit for public bodies to respond to or fulfill FOIA requests.

    “A request can sit for months without a response,” Bennett said. “Public information should be readily accessible to any citizen, and any person who makes a FOIA request for public records deserves a prompt response.”

    Under House Bill 300, any FOIA request for a public record must be granted within 10 business days from the receipt of the request. However, the public entity can extend that deadline if the request is for “voluminous” records, requires legal advice or if the record is in storage. In those situations, the agency or entity must inform the person making the request within 10 business days of the need for additional time.

    The bill now goes to the House Administration Committee with a total of 30 co-sponsors in both houses.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.