Clarifying the ‘Who’ and ‘What’ of Public Records

States look to clarify current public record laws — redefining ‘what’ is a public record and ‘who’ has access.

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Featured

Washington Supreme Court to hear police public records case

The Washington Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving six Seattle police officers who were in Washington D.C. during the Jan. 6 insurrection and sued several people who filed public records requests to disclose the officers’ names.

Janet Thoman, who along with Neil Fox represents a law student sued by the officers, said they’re pleased the court will decide the case.

“The public’s right to information about those that serve us is of fundamental and urgent importance,” Thoman said.

Blair Russ, an attorney for four of the officers, said they will fight to protect their rights at the state’s highest court “regardless of whatever political beliefs they might have, and just as they do in the field every day for all of us regardless of our political beliefs.”

Read More | KIRO 5 News

Legislation

Police body camera video accessible to select few in South Carolina

The state’s 2015 body camera law paved the way for its widespread adoption. But one of the stipulations of the statute declared body camera footage would not be subject to public record requests. The governor at the time, Nikki Haley, said this wouldn’t hinder transparency.

But after five years, some are asking that this portion of the law be revisited in order for the truth of an incident to more readily come out.

As it stands currently, the statute gives access to solicitors, other police agencies (including the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division), and the Attorney General’s office for cases they are working on. It is also in these agencies’ discretion on whether or not they choose to release this video to outside sources, such as the press or members of the public.

Read More | WMBF News

COMPLIANCE

Visitors Bureau in Anderson/Madison County, Indiana not covered by open records law

The Indiana public access counselor has determined the Anderson/Madison County Visitors Bureau is not a public agency.

In April, The Herald Bulletin made a public records request seeking the amount of money received and how those funds were spent by the Visitors Bureau.

Although the request was initially denied, the Visitors Bureau did provide the requested documentation.

The newspaper requested an opinion from Public Access Counselor Luke Britt on whether or not the Visitors Bureau had to comply with public records requests.

“After review, it does not appear as if the (Visitors) Bureau is a public agency over which my office has jurisdiction,” Britt wrote.

Read More | Herald Bulletin News

LITIGATION

Missouri governor is refunding some fees for open records requests after court ruling

In its unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled in June that Parson’s office improperly redacted records, charged exorbitant fees and knowingly and purposely violated the state’s open records law.

The court determined the state’s Sunshine Law does not allow government agencies to charge the public for attorneys to review records before turning them over.

In order to abide by the ruling, the governor’s office has decided it will refund attorneys’ fees paid by anyone whose open records request was pending when the court’s decision was handed down.

Read More | Missouri Independent

Peer Resource

The American Rescue Plan Act (and its Impact on Public Records) Explained

What is ARPA?
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) provides a substantial infusion of resources to eligible state, local, territorial, and tribal governments to help turn the tide on the pandemic; address its economic fallout; and lay the foundation for a strong and equitable recovery.

Free eCourse – ARPA and public records
This 8-part eCourse will provide resources to help you convince others in your organization of the value of investing in a public records solution using ARPA funds.

To keep up with the pace of increasing volume and complexity of public records – you are going to need to modernize your technology and deliver more government services – like public records – digitally.

Read More | GovQA

GovQA's Upcoming Events

GovQA regularly hosts and moderates roundtables and webinars with partners, associations, customers, and other subject matter experts to create and expand opportunities for state and local government agency members to discuss the challenges they face.

New York State Virtual Discovery Roundtable

Webinar: Responding to Video/Audio Public Record Requests in Maryland/Connecticut

New York State Association of Counties

See All Upcoming Events

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 peers@govqa.com.

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