Representative John Kowalko has reintroduced a bill that would remove the general exemption of the state’s public universities from the Freedom of Information Act. Kowalko has been pursuing this legislation since the 2013-2014 session, when the University of Delaware entered into an agreement to build a power plant in his district. Kowalko has said that this bill is based on the premise that universities get money from taxpayers and as a result should have to divulge how their funds are spent.
Earlier attempts to pass this legislation resulted in a compromise bill in 2014 that required universities to produce only records related to proposals or contracts that use public funds. Governor Jack Markell signed the bill into law in July 2014. The bill allowed the universities to remain largely exempt from open meetings and open records laws with the exception of Board of Trustee meetings.
House Bill 102 returns to the original premise of just removing the general exemption entirely, though it would still protect University information related to 1) confidential letters or statements related to admission, employment, or honors; 2) Proprietary information related to study or research or 3) Personal fundraising strategies relating to and confidential financial and personal information about identifiable donors or prospective donors.
|House Bill 102 Sponsors||Yes Votes||No Votes|
|Kowalko, Lambert, Morrison, Bennett, Loynn, Osienski, K.Williams|
|Walsh, Paradee, Sokola|
|Current Status – House Administration 2/19/21|
House Bill 102 will require a greater than majority vote for passage because § 1 of Article IX of the Delaware Constitution requires the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members elected to each house of the General Assembly to amend a charter issued to a corporation for educational purposes sustained in whole or part by the State, including the University of Delaware and Delaware State University.