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Published on Friday, March 10, 2017

Senate to hear public records bills this week – including AWC priority bills

AWC’s priority public records bills, HB 1594 and HB 1595, will be heard in the Senate State Government Committee on Wednesday, March 15 at 8 am. We encourage you to contact your Senators and let them know about the importance of these two bills.

Both bills were amended during their journey through the House, but they retain their most important components.

HB 1594:

  • Requires training for records officers to address issues of retention, production and disclosure of electronic records.
  • Creates a grant program within the Office of the Secretary of State for local governments to improve their public record management systems.
  • Establishes a program within the Office of the Attorney General and the State Archives to consult with local governments on public records best practices.
  • Creates a study on the feasibility of establishing a statewide open records portal.
  • Provides for a $1 document recording fee to fund the programs in the bill.
  • The funding and the programs will sunset in 2020.
  • Updates the process for asking a requestor to clarify a request.

HB 1595:

  • Amends the PRA to allow cities to charge a small fee for providing copies of electronic records. A city may establish different fees by conducting its own cost study but the default charges in the bill are as follows:
    • 10 cents per scanned page
    • 5 cents per 4 files or attachments
    • 10 cents per gigabyte
    • These charges may be applied cumulatively
  • Creates the ability for cities to deny overwhelming computer generated “bot” requests.
  • Prohibits overly broad requests for all of a city’s records.
  • Creates a way for cities to apply a service charge to exceptionally complex requests.

Two additional public records bills supported by AWC are also scheduled for public hearing on March 15 in the State Government Committee.

  • HB 1160 enacting recommendations of the Sunshine Committee. The bill includes the following:
    • Requires public disclosure for certain otherwise exempted personal information where the subject of the information consents to disclosure.
    • Exempts public employee and volunteer passport and visa numbers from public disclosure.
    • Provides that the exemption from public disclosure of information regarding the ongoing investigations of employment-related discrimination lasts until the agency provides notice of the outcome of the investigation.
    • Exempts trade secrets from public disclosure.
    • Allows attorney's fees to any defendant who successfully defends against an injunction of the public disclosure of financial related records.
  • HB 1417 harmonizes the Open Public Meetings Act and the Public Records Act for matters related to technology security by allowing a local government to hold an executive session for purposes of discussing technology security matters.

Also being heard on March 15 in the House State Government Committee is SB 5207, which was requested by the Department of Enterprise Services and would exempt from release GPS data that indicates a public employee’s residential address.

Categories: Open government