NEFAC Opposes Maine Legislation Requiring Advance Payment of All Record Request Costs

The New England First Amendment Coalition today opposed Maine legislation that would cause unnecessary delays to the release of public records.

The legislation, L.D. 1432, allows an agency or official to “require payment of all costs before the public record is provided to the requester” under the state’s Freedom of Access Act.

More

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.

More

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.

More

From $37 to $339,000: Why the Price of Public Records Requests Varies So Much

Local and state laws regarding what constitutes the public’s domain are about as uniform as a patchwork quilt. And technology — or a lack thereof — further contributes to the increasing cost variance between jurisdictions.

New IT software, for the governments that can afford it, has certainly sped up the time it takes to fulfill requests and thus lowered the price of information. But in some cases, technology can complicate matters. This issue is particularly heightened when privacy concerns require time-consuming redaction work.

More

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.

More

Wa.: A matter of records: Governments look to change ways public gets information

Last year Yakima County responded to 2,453 requests for public documents. Many of those had multiple parts, each requiring research of thousands of documents.

For example, one recent request in the county’s planning department contained 10 boxes of documents.

Answering requests isn’t always simple. Documents must be reviewed to redact confidential information, a process that could take weeks or months depending on the size and scope of the request, said the county’s public records officer, Stormy Miller.

More

Wa.: Lawmakers seek to discourage serial public records requesters

A bipartisan pair of state lawmakers working on public disclosure legislation say they are trying to strike a balance between keeping the public informed and managing the costs of responding to records requests.

Rep. Terry Nealey, R-Dayton, and Rep. Joan McBride, D-Kirkland, are working on proposals to help government officials recoup more of their expenses while also discouraging massive requests that can cripple a city’s or county’s ability to respond.

More

South Carolina Senate rejects House swap of dash cam bill with FOIA reforms

The Senate has rejected an attempt by House lawmakers to substitute revisions to the state Freedom of Information Act in a bill passed by the Senate to regulate the release of police dash cam video.

The House made the swap after a senator halted progress of the FOIA bill in the Senate. Lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn for the year on Thursday. Continue…

More