States Search for a “Transparency Sweet Spot”

Should the public have the right to access police misconduct records, mugshots, and school records? And if so, how much time should government agencies have to gather and release this information? States discuss this and more as they begin to wrap up the 2022 Legislative Session.

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Pennsylvania House introduces bill to strengthen open records law for public officials

Pennsylvania House Rep. Frank Burns has introduced legislation (H.B. 2471) that would strengthen the state’s right-to-know law by expediting public records requests filed by elected officials.

Burns’ bill would require government entities to provide an elected official who files an open records request with a final determination in five days, eliminating the 30-day extension permitted under current law. If the agency denies the request, the elected official could appeal to the state Office of Open Records (OOR), which would also have five days to rule on the case, down from 30 days. To support the OOR in hitting this aggressive timeline, the bill would also create a dedicated appeals officer position within the office specifically to handle appeals from elected officials.

The bill would not change what information is considered public in Pennsylvania and would not affect individuals who use the law to access public documents.

Read More |

Information Governance Tips and Best Practices for Success as a Records Manager

In this webinar on Monday, April 25, Cindi Mansell, veteran records manager, brings to light the critical flaws in using spreadsheets and email to manage records requests.

If you struggle to get support to purchase appropriate tools to do your job as records manager, this overview and the accompanying materials can help! Get the clarity you need to help communicate the challenges and risks of relying on spreadsheets and email.

Learn More and Register >>>


Louisiana House votes to prohibit release of most mug shots before conviction

A bill to exempt booking photos from public records has gained approval from lawmakers on the Louisiana House and Governmental Affairs Committee and now moves to the full House.

Committee members voted 11-1 to approve House Bill 729, sponsored by Rep. Royce Duplessis, to exempt mugshots from public records and prevent the media from publishing booking photos before a person is convicted.

Duplessis told the committee Wednesday [March 30] the bill provides exceptions “if the person is deemed a fugitive” or poses “some imminent danger to the public.”

Read More | Louisiana Illuminator

New Hampshire's ‘Parental bill of rights’ legislation draws opposition from teachers unions, child advocate

The New Hampshire Senate is considering a “parental bill of rights” that would provide a parent “the right to direct the education and care of his or her minor child” and provide access to school records.

But teachers unions, social worker advocates, and the state’s Office of the Child Advocate have objected to the bill, arguing it is too vague, too punitive to teachers, and too heavily weighted toward parents’ interests over children’s interests.

House Bill 1431 would set out a number of parental rights in statute, including the right to direct a child’s education, the right to access all school records relating to their child, and the right to be notified promptly if an employee suspects a crime has been committed against the child – with exceptions. The latter right would not apply if a partner is suspected of a criminal offense against the child, or if sharing the information would impede a criminal investigation.

The bill would require school districts to adopt policies to inform parents of already existing rights in statute, such as the right to object to classroom instructional materials and find an alternative arrangement; the right to exempt their child from immunizations due to religious beliefs or a physician exemption; and the right to review report cards and graduation requirements.

Read More | New Hampshire Bulletin


Montana Supreme Court clarifies email retention policy

In a meeting Tuesday, [April 5] the Montana Supreme Court clarified rules about maintaining digital records, including policies for what emails judicial branch employees should save or delete.

Under the new policy, staff can delete emails related to routine “ministerial functions” such as scheduling meetings, sharing basic office procedures and random sales pitches.

Lawmakers scrutinized the judicial branch’s management of digital records during the 2021 Legislative Session. When legislators requested emailed results of a poll showing how district court judges felt about some proposed legislation, McLaughlin told lawmakers she deleted the messages and said she’d seen them as ministerial.

Read More | KTVH News


New Hampshire fights to keep police records secret

A judge gave a lawyer for the state of New Hampshire a hard time Thursday [April 7] as she tried to argue that the disciplinary records of a state trooper fired for misconduct should remain confidential.

If you “look at the trend in the New Hampshire Supreme Court’s cases, your reading seems to be a departure from that more expansive view of public access to public records,” Merrimack County Superior Judge John C. Kissinger Jr. told Assistant Attorney General Jessica King partway through the hearing.

The hearing came in a right-to-know lawsuit filed by the ACLU of New Hampshire, which seeks the disciplinary records of former Trooper Haden Wilber. N.H. State Police have so far declined to release the records, citing personnel privacy grounds.

Read More | Seacoastonline


Grants Office Webcast: Leveraging ARPA Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to Purchase Public Records Management Software

The American Rescue Plan’s $350 billion in Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds offers a huge opportunity for states and local governments to invest in public service delivery, to increase government transparency, and to make governments operate more efficiently. One way these flexible stimulus funds can be used is to improve how governments process and respond to public records requests.

On November 18, 2021 the Grants Office was joined by guests from GovQA and the National Association of Counties (NACo) to help agencies leverage ARPA Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to purchase public records management software. In this webcast, we covered the broad basics of these funds, their eligible expenses, and discussed some of the sample use cases aligned with the Treasury Department guidelines. Additionally, we covered the best practices for putting together a stimulus proposal to support public records projects.

Learn more and Watch the Webcast >>>

Read More | GovQA – Now Part of Granicus 

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The Peers in Public Records Newsletter (formerly FOIA News) is a bi-monthly e-newsletter brought to you by GovQA. It is a collection of the latest trends in public record requests and government transparency initiatives, shared stories, informative case studies, and actionable knowledge that will help you calm the chaos and keep your organization compliant. Send your comments to

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