April  2013    
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  "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." 

Follow NEFAC's ongoing First Amendment conversation as it develops across New England 
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Balboni and Wilkinson
Philip Balboni and NEFAC President Mary Jane Wilkinson
Balboni, Lang, Stacom Honored at NEFAC Luncheon     
   Philip Balboni, GlobalPost co-founder and the architect of NECN, accepted the third annual Stephen J. Hamblett First Amendment Award from NEFAC President Mary Jane Wilkinson at the annual luncheon in Boston.
  Inaugural right-to-know awards went to
David Lang, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire, and to Don Stacom of  The Hartford Courant.   
Keep up with First Amendment issues via NEFAC's blog

   It's a forum for citizens, journalists, students, public policy advocates and government officials to have their say on First Amendment issues.
   The blog is maintained by the staff of the New England First Amendment Center at the School of Journalism at Northeastern University.
   Submit comments to Laura Crimaldi:

Compiling a Database of ME 'Concealed Carry' Permits Could Be Pricey   

By Judith Meyer 

   AUGUSTA, Maine - On April 3, Maine's Judiciary Committee voted 10-3 to create a new public access exception to shield personal identifying information on state-issued concealed carry permits, yielding to the overwhelming testimony of the gun lobby and gun owners to protect their privacy. Meyer, Judith

   This, after the full legislature passed an "emergency" 60-day shield in February to allow time for tempers to cool before debating a permanent measure.

   Tempers never did cool. In fact, the proposed exception to the state's Freedom of Access Act only became more politicized.    Read more   

Parents of Special Needs Students Want More Info on Darien, CT, Program Changes
By David DesRoches
   DARIEN, Conn. -  What started as a simple records request by a handful of parents has blossomed into an unprecedented legal matter that challenges the integrity of an entire school district, and perhaps even the state's education department.
 DesRoches column shot   
Parents of special needs children in Darien, Conn., became concerned about their children's legal right to a free and appropriate education, what's known as FAPE, when a new special education director was hired in June of 2012.          This new director, Deirdre Osypuk, came to one of the best performing districts in the state,  if not the country, from Bloomfield, one of the worst performing districts. 
   A little background: many in town had expressed concern over the growing special education population, which was more than the state average, and its cost - Darien was spending about 28 percent of its total education money on special ed, whereas the average for similar districts was about 21 percent.
  Read more
RI Proposal Would Keep Parents in the Dark on School Safety Talks
By Steven Brown
PROVIDENCE - In light of the tragedy at Newtown, Conn., there is an understandable interest in strengthening school safety. But discussions of this issue cannot be complete, thorough or optimal if they are conducted largely in secret.
    Unfortunately, Gov. Lincoln Chafee and legislative leaders have proposed legislation (H 5941/S 801) that would reverse more than ten years of transparency, shroud the school safety process in secrecy, and keep parents in the dark about how their children are being protected.
Public Has Right to Know About Projects Like East-West Highway  
By Rachel Healy
   AUGUSTA, Maine - In March, the ACLU of Maine testified before the Legislature's Transportation Committee in favor of a bill to restore the public's right to know about transportation projects that are proposed as public-private partnerships. Rachel Healy
   Under current law, materials used or submitted in connection with such a proposal are kept secret. LD 721, "An Act To Provide Transparency in Public-Private Partnerships for Transportation Projects," would make those materials public.
   Questions about the need for such secrecy are tied to the proposed 220-mile east-west toll highway that would be built across rural Maine with an estimated $2 billion in private investments and become a link between southwestern New Brunswick and southern Quebec.  
   We welcome contributions to The NEFAC Report from journalists, lawyers, adademics or other advocates of government transparency.
   If you have something to add to the conversation, please let me know. Your  stories, experiences and commentaries have broad appeal and value. - - Larry Laughlin, NEFAC Report editor. ([email protected]).