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5 things to watch in public records policies

TCOG-Website-Header-300x125To influence government, citizens must have access to information.

In Tennessee, an important safeguard to that access is the state’s public records law. Last year, lawmakers took a step in the right direction and passed a law that requires every government entity in the state to establish a public records policy by July 1.

I’ve focused on five issues to watch as city councils, boards of aldermen, county commissions, industrial development boards, state agency boards and others move to adopt new policies.

  1. Does the policy contain a fee-waiver provision for records in the “public Interest” or “public good”?
  2. May citizens use personal devices to take pictures of public records?
  3. Does the policy commit the government entity to put regularly requested public records on its website?
  4. Does the policy make clear that the government entity will follow the law and provide records promptly?
  5. Does the policy list the name and email address to which a public records request can be sent?

Lawmakers followed up on last year’s work this year with legislation that further specifies that government entities that use email in government business must accept public records requests by email, as well as by U.S. Postal Service.

This legislation was passed by the House and Senate and has been sent to the governor to sign.

It’s important to check that policies in development across the state include email addresses to make it easier to reach the public records request coordinator.

Read the full article online at tcog.info/5-things-to-watch-in-public-records-policies.

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