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New open records law takes effect

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Oct. 17, 2007  ·   Nevada has enacted a new open records law, which requires government agencies to respond to…

Oct. 17, 2007  ·   Nevada has enacted a new open records law, which requires government agencies to respond to a written public records request within five days.

The new legislation modifies a loophole in the previous version of the Nevada Public Records Law which did not set a time limit, according to Nevada Press Association Executive Director Barry Smith.

“There were occasions when a government agency simply did not respond at all, and there was no deadline in the law,” Smith said. “The more damaging or embarrassing the information, it seemed, the more foot-dragging went on.”

Within those five days, the government must grant the request or explain why the request is denied with proper legal citation. Also, if the public record is not in the government’s custody or cannot be located within five days, it must notify the requester where it is located and when it will become available.

Details regarding the confidentiality of records are also mentioned in the law, which states that documents cannot be withheld completely if only a portion of the record is deemed confidential; the confidential section can be redacted, but the rest of the document must be made public.

Although the law does not clearly define what can be considered an open record, it’s a step in the right direction, according to Smith.

“I do not think that there’s anything groundbreaking here,” he said. “Still, it’s a good step forward for the state.”

Adam Vingan


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