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Published on Friday, June 16, 2017

New public records bills effective July 23, implementation work just beginning

The effective date of AWC’s two priority public records is July 23, 2017. Work has already begun on various implementation pieces for the bills. HB 1594 directed the Attorney General to develop a consultation program that local governments could access. The Attorney General’s office has started planning for that program and anticipates that they will have something operational later this fall. Additionally, HB 1594 tasked the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) with creating a reporting system for a number of performance measurement metrics. JLARC is just beginning the process with initial stakeholder conversations. They also anticipate providing additional guidance later this fall with data tracking likely to take effect for cities come January. The bill also requires agencies to keep a log of each request with the following information:

  • Identity of requestor (if provided);
  • Date and text of request;
  • Description of records produced in response to request;
  • Description of records redacted or withheld and the reasons for redaction/withholding; and
  • Date of final disposition of the request.

For the new ability to charge a fee for electronic records under HB 1595, there are some implementation steps that individual cities will need to take before charging the fee. MRSC provided a good rundown in a recent blog post. Prior to implementing the fee, an agency must calculate the actual costs or find that it would be unduly burdensome to calculate the actual cost and then rely on the default charges in the new law. Additionally, any charges may be adopted only after providing notice and public hearing.

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 four files or attachments
  • 10 cents per gigabyte
  • These charges may be applied cumulatively

The bill also:

  • Allows an agency to charge a flat fee of $2 for providing copies when the estimated costs are expected to be $2 or more.
  • 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.

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.
  • Provides for a $1 document recording fee to fund the consultation and grant programs.
  • The funding and the programs will sunset in 2020.
  • Updates the process for asking a requestor to clarify a request.
  • Requires agencies to maintain a log of each records request.
  • Requires agencies with actual budgeted public records costs over $100,000 to report certain performance measurements to JLARC.
Categories: Open government