Open records and meetings law in Wisconsin helps shine light on government actions, encouraging more honesty and accountability.


The state has fewer people enforcing environmental standards and is seeking fewer fines against polluters.

Twenty-two hospitals across Wisconsin haven’t offered emergency contraception to rape victims, as required by law.

Administrators were slow to disclose a hazardous liquid oxygen spill at the King Veterans Home near Waupaca and lied about providing a report on the incident to a concerned citizen.

The State Journal reported that news and so much more over the last year by filing open records requests with various units of government.

It’s a reminder of how vital transparency rules are to keeping elected officials and bureaucracy open, honest and accountable for their actions and spending.

Today is the start of Sunshine Week, when journalists across the country celebrate the public’s right to know what government is doing. We’ll be highlighting the importance of Wisconsin’s open records and meetings law, as well as the federal government’s Freedom of Information Act.

President Donald Trump is calling the free press an enemy of the American people. He’s outraged by the leaks and disclosures of information that he had praised when someone else was in the White House.

Being president isn’t a perk for the privileged. It’s a huge responsibility that demands integrity, dignity and discipline. Open government laws aren’t optional. Along with a free press, they are absolutely essential to democracy.

And you don’t have to be a journalist to find out what’s going on. Anyone can file a request for documents or attend a public meeting. A sample open records request can be viewed at

The good news is that state agencies in Wisconsin are responding more quickly to public requests since Gov. Scott Walker ordered improvements a year ago, according to today’s front-page article by State Journal reporter Matthew DeFour.

That trend must continue, with governments at all levels — including the president— being forthright about the people’s business.