What’s required to unlock records? Often it’s opening a checkbook and hitting the open road

While much of the world runs on digital transactions, it takes an actual paper checkbook and a lot of travel to unlock open records in many small agencies and police departments. A Michigan editor, who is leading a reporting project into police responses at a music festival at which four people died, found herself driving…


If records cannot always be free, at least make fees follow these 3 rules, Virginia coalition leader says

A subcommittee of Virginia’s FOIA Council is studying fees charged for public records. “In a perfect world, there would be no charges for FOIA requests in Virginia,” writes Megan Rhyne, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government. “There’s a philosophical issue that underpins some states’ open records law that says, ‘taxpayers have already…


Virginia lawmaker wants to cut FOIA fees, but some in government are pushing back

Danica Roem, a former journalist who serves in the Virginia House of Delegates, has introduced legislation requiring Virginia public bodies to fulfill records requests for free, unless the request takes more than two hours of staff time to fulfill. Critics of the bill said FOIA requests sometimes are used to “harass” public officials, and the…


From Indiana Coalition for Open Government: Governor Holcomb Vetoes HEA1523

From the Governor's letter, via ICOG's website:

While I understand the intent behind the bill to offset the considerable time and expense often devoted to fulfilling public records requests, I view this proposed legislation as contrary to my commitment to providing great government service at a great value for Hoosier taxpayers.


MuckRock: What you should know about FOIA fee categories – and how to make sure you end up in the correct one

There are a lot of factors when it comes to determining your FOIA request cost, but one of the key ones is which requester category you fall under. Under FOIA fee regulations, there are three broad categories of requesters, and making sure you are classified correctly can mean getting the documents for free or a reasonable fee and being asked to pay thousands – or even hundreds of thousands – of dollars.


Indiana Senate Passes Hourly Fee for Public Records Searches

he Indiana Senate has approved a bill allowing government agencies to charge $20 per hour for public records requests that take more than two hours to complete.

The measure by Republican Rep. Kathy Richardson of Noblesville passed the Senate on a 44-3 vote Wednesday.

Under the proposal, the first two hours would not be billed. After that, hours spent working to complete the request would come with a bill that's the lesser of $20 per hour or the hourly wage of the employee completing the search.


Kansas Senate to consider effort to block excessive fees for open records

The Senate may take up a bill soon meant to prevent public agencies from deterring open records requests or using them as a revenue source by charging excessive fees.

The bill was scheduled for debate Wednesday afternoon, but was postponed.

Public agencies that testified against the bill have expressed concern it goes too far. But Sen. Jacob LaTurner, R-Pittsburg, has been pursuing such limits to what government can charge for a few years.


MO: Local Special Report on Government Transparency finds Inconsistent Sunshine Request Results

If your friend asks to borrow money, you may ask them, "What for?" Missouri's Sunshine Law is designed to make sure we, as taxpayers, know what our state and local entities are doing with our money.

Is the law being followed and enforced? In an ABC 17 News Special Report, Marissa Hollowed found your government may be shutting you out.

"They didn't want to turn these records over, so they wanted to make it as burdensome as they possibly could on us," Daniel Kolde told ABC 17 News in his St. Louis office.


Ruling says government can’t charge for legal review of open records under Missouri’s Sunshine Law

A court ruling in St. Louis County last month found that Missouri public records laws do not allow government agencies to charge fees for the time they spend reviewing public records and blacking out information before turning them over to the people who requested them.

The Missouri Sunshine Law says the requester can be billed for the time it takes to locate records, but the government has the responsibility to segregate open parts from closed.


Texas clerks look to derail web-based public access to court records

Texas court clerks are resisting a state proposal they say would strip them of their constitutional authority by making court documents available online for easy public access.

The statewide database, re:SearchTX, holds records from all 254 counties and is backed by the state’s Supreme Court. It currently is used by judges and soon will be available to attorneys and the public — who could search for civil court records and review them, all from the comfort of home.