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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 Indiana General Assembly has given the public and the news media broad access to meetings of public agencies and to records of the public's business through the Indiana Open Door Law and the Indiana Access to Public Records Act. Recent amendments have attempted to provide quicker resolution of access questions through the creation of a state public access counselor and have beefed up the right to recover attorney fees when access requests are denied.

FOREWORD

Washington’s public records and open public meetings laws, passed separately in the early 1970s, are a product of the “open government” climate brought about by distrust of government accountability and by misuse of government power during the civil rights and Vietnam protest era. Citizen groups such as the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, Coalition for Open Government, and others succeeded in promoting such legislation at a time when conservative opposition to such measures was discredited.

FOREWORD

The Alaska Legislature has adopted statutes assuring access to both public meetings and public records, and the Alaska Supreme Court has liberally construed these statutes to help ensure they accomplish their intended purposes. What is the intent of these laws? The state Supreme Court has noted Alaska's strong commitment to ensuring broad public access to both government records and meetings.

FOREWORD

Open Records. Kansas law on open records and open meetings is statutory. The Kansas Open Records Act, K.S.A. 45-215, et seq., (KORA) was enacted in 1984; the Kansas Open Meetings Act, K.S.A. 75-4317, et seq., (KOMA) was passed in 1972. The statutes are unrelated and do not overlap but are to be construed together. A few dozen reported decisions construing either act exist, and there is a large volume of Attorney General's Opinions and a small number of unreported trial court decisions.

FOREWORD

New Mexico, the "Sunshine State," has historically provided a hospitable climate for open government.

FOREWORD

The Development of Public Access Law in Wisconsin

The very first Wisconsin statutes adopted after the organization of Wisconsin as a state provided for public access to the meetings and records of county government. Wis. Rev. Stat. Ch. 10, §§ 29, 37,137 (1849). From that early starting point, the Wisconsin tradition of full public access to the affairs of government has grown steadily.

FOREWORD

Before the enactment of section 2695 of the Alabama Code of 1923, there was no statutorily protected right of access to public records in Alabama. See Excise Comm'r of Citronelle v. State ex rel. Skinner, 179 Ala. 654, 60 So. 812 (Ala. 1912). At common law, however, the records of judicial proceedings were open to inspection by any citizen, and there was a qualified common law right of access to nonjudicial records. 60 So. at 813. The Supreme Court of Alabama described the qualified right of access to nonjudicial public records as follows:

FOREWORD

Open Records.

The Kentucky General Assembly enacted the Kentucky Open Records Act ("ORA") in 1976 — and it has not stopped tinkering with the Act since then. In response to business concerns and new technologies, the legislature substantially revised the ORA in 1986, 1992, and again in 1994.

FOREWORD

Open Records. As early as 1906, the Nevada Supreme Court recognized a common-law right to inspect and copy public records.

However, the recognition of the common-law right was subject to the requirement that the requester have an "interest" in the matters to which the records relate. State v. Grimes, 29 Nev. 50, 84 P. 1064 (1906).