Senate Bill 6617, which would exempt the Legislature from complying with the state Public Records Act approved by voters in 1973, includes the following provisions:
It creates a special Public Records Act for the Legislature, different from the one state agencies and local governments must follow. It only requires them to release certain documents, which could exempt records of who may be influencing legislation.
It provides no appeal outside the Legislature. If a public records request is denied, the requester can appeal to the Facilities and Operations Committee or the Executive Rules Committee, which are made up of legislators, but if that appeal is denied, the decision is final and the requester can’t appeal to a court.
It exempts communications from “constituents,” but doesn’t define the term.
It exempts some information from calendars.
It allows documents to be denied for “privacy” for anything legislators decide is not of legitimate public concern and highly offensive.
It allows them to deny release for anything they say is issued to harass or intimidate or presents a safety risk.
It is retroactive and applies to all pending requests and litigation, which would overrule a trial court’s ruling in a lawsuit brought by state news organizations.
It would block release of most records related to complaints of misconduct like sexual harassment by saying only the final disposition of disciplinary proceedings will be released.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day's top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter