Accountability Measures and Public Records
States continue to adapt their public record protocols related to accountability in response to the rippling impact of 2020’s events.
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More police accountability in Colorado
[House Bill 21-1250] expands the circumstances in which officers must turn on their body cameras and opens up the Colorado State Patrol to more potential lawsuits over officer misconduct, in the same way last year’s bill added civil liability for local law enforcement agencies. Last year’s police accountability law allowed people to sue over police misconduct in state court and precluded qualified immunity as a defense in those cases.
A portion of the introduced bill that sought to more clearly dictate when officers can use force was removed from the final bill.
“I think there is still work to be done in the space around use of force, and a lot of that is not only in words, like in language, but in culture with law enforcement,” said state Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, a co-sponsored of the bill.
Read More | Daily Colorado News
Missouri governor Parson vetoes bill that would have limited access to public records
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Friday [July 9] vetoed a wide-ranging bill that would have limited public access to certain government records.
Among other things, the measure would have allowed Missouri government agencies to close off public access to people’s addresses and phone numbers provided for mailing lists.
More broadly, the bill would give a 30-day deadline for people to pay once they receive a bill for the estimated cost to get public records, although requests could be resubmitted.
Read More | Springfield News Leader
Lack of retention policy puts Idaho Legislature at odds with public records law
The whole intent of [Idaho’s Public Records Law] is to “protect each citizen’s right to monitor the actions of state and local government entities by providing access to government records.”
With no retention schedule, nothing in state law or legislative rule spells out how long certain records must be kept. As a result, the common practice is for lawmakers to delete email messages, social media posts and other communications whenever they see fit.
And so long as a pending records request isn’t seeking the information, they say such actions are perfectly legal.
Read More | Idaho Press
Judge rules: Arizona Department of Public Safety violated law by failing to respond to Republic's public records request
A Superior Court judge has ruled that the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) violated the state’s public records law repeatedly when handling requests by The Arizona Republic for information about the department’s Border Strike Force.
In one instance, the department took 18 months to comply with a request for an updated list of Border Strike force investigations. Spending that much time failed the statutory requirement that records be produced “promptly,” the judge ruled.
Judge Randall Warner, ruling in The Republic’s favor on Monday, ordered the DPS to either produce those records, or to acknowledge that such records do not exist. He also concluded that the department had no acceptable rationale for its delays.
Read More | AZ Central News
ARPA Funding for Public Records – ARPA vs CARES
The Federal Government continues its push to stimulate economic recovery and alleviate the strain many agencies are experiencing as a result of COVID-19. One of the first sources of funding was the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, a $2.2 trillion aid package ($150 billion direct to SLGs) signed into law in March 2020. Jurisdictions follow a set of steps to apply for this funding for public records projects. The deadline for spending was extended to 12/31/21.
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is the most recent funding relief package released in the United States. ARPA provides about $1 trillion in funding dedicated to economic recovery, $350 billion of which is earmarked as emergency funds deposited directly to funding for state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments.
Read More | GovQA
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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.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.