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FOREWORD

FOREWORD

Open Records. On January 8, 2002, Acting Governor, Donald DiFrancesco, signed into Law a new Open Public Records Act ("OPRA").

The new statute makes significant improvements to the prior Right to Know Law:

 •  The law provides a succinct definition of "public record" which will assist custodians in providing access while at the same time excluding from the definition records not kept by a public officer in the course of his/her official business.

 •  The law provides a uniform system for requesting records and responding to requests as well as a time from within which the custodian must respond to the request — a significant omission in the prior Right to Know Law.

 •  The law preserves the existing court review of access disputes and provides a less expensive alternative administrative review, at the requester's option through the Government Records Council.

FOREWORD

The first provision of the District of Columbia Freedom of Information Act of 1974, D.C. Code Ann. § 2-531 et seq. ("D.C. Act"), emphasizes the public policy of open government that underlies the law. The D.C. Act provides that the

FOREWORD

In the mid-1970s, Minnesota's legislature chose to balance, by statute, openness in government with privacy interests of citizens who provide information to the government. The philosophy followed by the legislature was supposedly simple. All government data are presumptively public. The only data that are not public are data that are specifically exempted from disclosure under a specific provision of the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (MGDPA), or some other state or federal statute.

FOREWORD

Open Records. Rhode Island enacted its open records statute, the Access to Public Records Act ("APRA"), R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 38-2-1 et seq., in 1979, making it the forty-ninth state to pass such legislation. The APRA was substantially amended in 1991 and 1998.

FOREWORD

At common law a person was entitled to inspect public records, including legislative, executive and judicial records, provided the citizen had an interest therein for some useful purpose and not for mere curiosity. C. v. C., 320 A.2d 717 (Del. 1974).

In 1977, the Delaware General Assembly adopted the Freedom of Information Act, 29 Del. C. § 10001 et seq. (the "Act" or "FOIA"). The Act's purpose is stated at the outset in what is titled the "Declaration of Policy":

FOREWORD

Two statutes govern access to government meetings and records in Missouri: (1) a statute commonly known as the Sunshine Law, Mo.Rev.Stat. §   610.010-.035 (together with the separately named Arrest Records Law, Mo.Rev.Stat. §§  610.100-.126), originally enacted in 1973; and (2) the Public Records Law, Mo.Rev.Stat. §§  109.180-.190, originally enacted in 1961.

FOREWORD

South Caroli na first adopted a freedom of information act to provide access to the meetings and records of governmental institutions in 1974. The first significant Supreme Court test for the act revealed substantial weaknesses in the law resulting in a major revision in 1978.

FOREWORD

Florida has the most expansive open government laws in the country. Open government law has proceeded on three different, but related, tracks: statutory public records, statutory public meetings, and judicial access decisional law. Florida public records law is codified at Fla. Stat. §§ 119.01 to 119.15 (1995). The open meeting statute is commonly called the Florida Sunshine Law, and is codified at Fla. Stat. §§ 286.011 to 286.012 (1991).

FOREWORD

The antiquated South Dakota open records law finally was overhauled completely during the 2009 legislative session. The revamped law is modeled on and closely parallels Nebraska’s in most respects, although the South Dakota Legislature has added a handful of provisions. Since the new law went into effect on July 1, 2009, there is no body of case law establishing precedent. Therefore, most of this outline is based on common sense reading of the new statutes.  Whether the South Dakota courts look to Nebraska case law for interpretative guidance is anybody’s guess.