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Paton, Adams receive high honor from Arizona Newspapers Association

Two Republican lawmakers were recognized by the state’s largest newspaper organization for the work they did in opening access to some state records pertaining to children whose families have been investigated by Child Protective Services.
Rep. Kirk Adams, of Mesa, and Rep. Jonathan Paton, of Tucson, were given Freedom of Information Awards by the Arizona Newspapers Association at its annual conference Oct. 11.
“As a legislator, you tend to get a few awards here and there,” Adams said in his acceptance speech at the Arizona State University Cronkite School of Journalism. “But I’ve got to tell you this one means the most because it represents a lot of hard work in a very politically charged environment regarding a very difficult issue.
The lawmakers sponsored four bills in the 2008 legislative session that aimed at increasing the transparency of Child Protective Services by increasing the public’s access to information about cases they handle that had been deemed private.
All four bills were signed into law earlier this year. Among the CPS records now open for public access are: records in cases involving the fatality or near fatality of a child; court proceedings; and state employee disciplinary records.
The legislation came as a result of hearings held by the House Government Committee after the deaths of Brandon Williams and Tyler and Ariana Payne, despite Child Protective Services intervention.
Adams and Paton served as the chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, of that legislative committee.
“Every politician who runs for office says they’re in favor of open government,” Adams said. “But it is few who actually get into office and fully understand what that means when the rubber hits the road.
“I’ve learned through this process that open records and government transparency truly is a wellspring of perpetual reforms.” 

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