The Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was signed into law by Governor Winthrop Rockefeller on February 14, 1967. It is generally considered as one of the strongest models for open government. The purpose of the Act is to keep government business and government records open and accessible to the people of Arkansas. It is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of governmental bodies.
The Arkansas Open Meetings Law is a part of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. It legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted. The statement of purpose of the Open Meetings Act states, “It is vital in a democratic society that public business be performed in an open and public manner so that the electors shall be advised of the performance of public officials and of the decisions that are reached in public activity and in making public policy.”
The “Arkansas Freedom of Information Act of 1967” was initially called “Act 93 of 1967.” It is codified as Arkansas Code Annotated 25-19-101-109 et seq. The Act provides guidelines on what constitutes a public meeting. It also provides requirements for notifications when regular or special meetings of public governing bodies are scheduled. Furthermore, the Act establishes what qualifies as a public record and provides guidelines for public access to those records.
The Arkansas FOIA has been amended several times. As of 2010, the Act lists eighteen exemptions to the original law. The Arkansas legislature has amended the law to specifically protect such things as grand jury minutes, adoption records, and the identity of law enforcement officers currently working undercover.