Open Records Counsel sets ACOG meeting, plans survey, hearings on public records

The Office of Open Records Counsel has set a Monday, June 29, meeting of the Advisory Committee on Open Government to discuss a study on issues related to inspection of public records.

The meeting will be at 10:30 a.m. in Room 29 of Legislative Plaza in Nashville, and will be live-video streamed and accessible from the Tennessee General Assembly’s website.

The agenda includes discussion of the scope of the study, a proposed questionnaire/survey and hearings on public records issues. It also includes discussion about a plan for review for the Schedule of Reasonable Charges, the Frequent and Multiple Request and Safe Harbor Policies, the Best Practices Guidelines and FAQs and the Office of Open Records website.

(Read Office of Open Records Counsel’s proposed questionnaire: Proposed public records questionnaire.)

The meeting was spurred after legislation was filed this spring that would allow governments to charge new fees before a citizen would be allowed to inspect public records. The proposal was a top priority of the Tennessee School Boards Association, and bills were carried by state Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, and State Rep. Steve McDaniel, R-Parkers Crossroads.  TCOG, citizens and others raised concerns about fees hindering and blocking access to public records and a draft amendment was worked out with the lawmakers and the Tennessee School Boards Association that called for a much wider study on how to improve the process, increase efficiency and reduce costs for both requesters and the government. The amendment also added more protections against abuses.

Before the amendment was introduced, however, the Open Records Counsel offered to study the issue over the summer. The lawmakers took their bills off notice. Tracy, in speaking to the Senate committee, said he wanted the Open Records Counsel and ACOG to study the amended version.

 

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