Blocked Records, Expanding Exemptions and More

As 2022 Legislative Sessions come to a close, the debate around what documents should be accessible to the public under state public record laws heightens. Police reform, driver license information, juvenile records, and more find their way into the legislative hot seat.

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Michigan moves to block release of certain driver records, then reverses itself

The Michigan Department of State said Friday [April 15] it would no longer release the driving records of victims of violence, but Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson reversed the policy change a few hours later.

“There is no change in policy at this time,” Benson said in a news release later Friday [April 15].

“The department is currently reviewing the manner in which it provides the driver record of any Michigan resident to third parties to ensure we balance the critical importance of government transparency and access to information with the need to protect the privacy of Michiganders.”

But while the review is underway, “there will be no changes to our current policy, nor will there be any changes to media or public access to such data.”

The earlier announcement had brought sharp blowback and criticism from First Amendment proponents.

Read More | Detroit Free Press

NEW DATE & TIME - 3 Tips in 15 Minutes: Move your records storage and tracking out of spreadsheets and email

In this webinar on Tuesday, May 31, 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 >>>


Police reform bills stall in Maryland General Assembly’s 2022 session

Police reform was one of the biggest priorities for lawmakers in the 2021 session. Legislators passed the Police Accountability Act of 2021, which limited police officers’ use of force, restricted the use of no-knock warrants and repealed the state’s law enforcement Bill of Rights.

The Police Accountability Act also established a unit within the state Attorney General’s office to investigate police-involved deaths of civilians.

One bill debated this legislative session — Senate Bill 896 — looked to expedite the process for the Attorney General’s involvement in the Police Accountability Act’s provisions.

Under the Police Accountability Act, the Attorney General has 15 days to provide an investigative report to the local state’s attorney if an officer is involved in a civilian death. Senate Bill 896, sponsored by Sen. William Smith, would have given the Attorney General the ability to prosecute the officer immediately after the investigation, before giving the responsibility to the local state’s attorney.

Another bill that would have provided numerous clarifications to the Maryland Police Accountability Act, sponsored by Sen. Michael Jackson, also passed out of the Senate but was never assigned to a House committee.

The bill would have clarified protocols for training, membership, and certification of officers in the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission — the body established by the state legislature to govern police certification and training in the state.

Read More | DiamondBack News

Senate aims to exclude some documents, meetings from Missouri public records law

A bill approved by the Missouri Senate would impose limits on the state’s public records law to exclude certain types of documents and communications and no longer classify some meetings of elected officials as “public.”

Senate Bill 741 was initially designed to limit personal information of constituents from being classified as public and responsive to records requests. It was amended Thursday [April 21] by Sen. Andrew Koenig, to include a litany of other adjustments to the Missouri Sunshine Law.

The law allows for members of the public, press and other organizations to request and acquire government documents.

Under the bill, documents and communications “that do not have substantial administrative or operational value” would not be considered public records and could thus be made unobtainable through a request.

Read More | Springfield News Leader


Washington Supreme Court rules change threatens public safety, access to juvenile records

Rule changes by the Washington Supreme Court — meant to mitigate the harm of the juvenile justice system — will instead interfere with the public’s right to know, hinder law enforcement, and threaten public safety.

If implemented as is, the court’s good intentions unfortunately will cover the tracks of legal system officials who should be held accountable for their decisions.

The changes would limit access to juvenile records online, making them available exclusively at a county clerk’s office, and would substitute initials for names in juvenile offender records, according to the proposal made by the Washington State Office of Public Defense and the Minority and Justice Commission.

Read More | The Seattle Times


3 Tips in 15 Minutes: Quick wins to stay afloat when drowning in public records requests

On Thursday, May 5th at 11am EST, Cindi Mansell, veteran records manager, will offer actionable tips to help your organization shift from treading water to sailing free in an ever-more-complex world of responding to public records requests.

She’ll review ways in which your organization can:

  • Not sweat the small stuff; set a schedule, make a list, and prioritize
  • Make changes big and small to aid workload and demand
  • Centralize your process to drive tiered request processing, and deflect requests

We’re sure you’ll walk away with at least a few tips you can take back to your own organization based on Cindi’s many years of experience.

Learn more and Register >>>

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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