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2. Legislative bodies

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  • Alabama

    All legislative bodies are presumptively subject to the Public Records Law, although the Law itself is silent on this point. One trial court has applied the Law to the following legislative officers: Clerk of the State House and Secretary of the State Senate: Remote access telephone assignment records. Birmingham News Co. v. Swift, CV 88-1390 G (Cir. Ct. of Montgomery County, Ala., Aug. 31, 1988).

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  • Alaska

    Subordinate legislative bodies such as school boards and municipal assemblies are clearly covered by the public records law. Records of the Alaska Legislature itself are also public by virtue of legislative rules and statutes. It is possible that legislators would argue the laws and rules are not judicially enforceable, citing Abood v. League of Women Voters, 743 P.2d 333 (Alaska 1987). In that case, the Alaska Supreme Court held that violations by the state legislature of the Alaska Open Meetings Act were "nonjusticiable," even though the OMA and legislative rules expressly required the legislature to meet publicly in accordance with the law. This means the court simply will not entertain disputes over such violations, because of the need to respect the relationship between coordinate branches of government established by the constitution.

    Would the same reasoning be applied by the courts to duck problems with legislative violations of public records laws? Possibly, though there are good arguments to the contrary. The Abood decision rests on two constitutional provisions. First, the Alaska constitution provides, in Article II, Section 12: "Rules. The houses of each legislature shall adopt uniform rules of procedure." This, the Court says, "specifically and exclusively authorizes the legislature to adopt its own rules of procedure." Further, the court found that when, where and how legislators meet and deliberate is a question of legislative rules and that only the legislature can decide whether and how the law should apply to it. This reasoning could be applied to records, as well, since the premise of the court's opinion is that "out of respect owed to a coordinate branch of state government, [the court must] defer to the wisdom of the legislature concerning violations of legislative rules which govern the internal workings of the legislature." 743 P.2d at 337. In this context, however, records and meetings present very different issues. It is less obvious that access to records involves procedural rules. Also, there is no provision in the records laws comparable to AS 44.62.312(f) in the OMA, which — as it was written at the time — would have voided legislation enacted as the result of a process involving open meetings law violations.

    A different problem is posed by the other ground for the Court's decision — Article II, Section 6, of the Alaska Constitution, dealing with legislative immunity. In essence, it would prevent questioning a legislator, and many legislative aides, about alleged violations of public records laws whether in depositions or in court. This should not be such a major stumbling block in the records context, however, since there will normally be records custodians other than the legislators or their aides. It is different from the situation of a meeting of legislators, when only they know what was said, or who attended. Further discussion of the interesting constitutional issues raised by access to legislative records is beyond the scope of this outline. Reporters should assume legislative records are generally open to the public unless and until it is determined otherwise.

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  • Arizona

     (This section is blank. See the point above.)

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  • Arkansas

    Records of a “public official or employee” and a “governmental agency” are covered by the FOIA. Ark. Code. Ann. § 25-19-103(5)(A). This definition includes the General Assembly, legislators, legislative committees, city councils, and other bodies with legislative powers. E.g., Laman v. McCord, 245 Ark. 401, 432 S.W.2d 753 (1968) (city council); Ark. Op. Att’y Gen. Nos. 96-123 (county quorum court), 84-091 (legislative committees). The definition might not include advisory bodies. Ark. Op. Att’y Gen. No. 2006-059 (Chancellor Search Advisory Committee). However, a task force that discusses official business of the larger governing body and will provide information upon which the governing body “could foreseeably take action” is included in the definition of a “governmental agency. “ Ark. Op. Att’y Gen. No. 2006-194 (HVAC-Plumbing Examining Committee Recommendation Feasibility Joint Task Force).

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  • California

    The CPRA does not apply to the State Legislature or its committees. Cal. Gov't Code § 6252(a). Records of the Legislature are subject to the Legislative Open Records Act. Cal. Gov't Code § 9070, et. seq. The Constitutional Sunshine Amendment does apply to the Legislature because it applies generally to "public bodies" and to the "writings of public officials," without excluding the Legislature. Cal. Const. Art. I, § 3(b)(1). The Amendment, however, specifically maintains exemptions and protections for confidentiality of records of the Legislature as provided for by "Section 7 of Article IV, state law, or legislative rules adopted in furtherance of those provisions . . . ." Cal. Const., Art. I, § 3(b)(1). Moreover, in Sutter’s Place v. Superior Court, 161 Cal. App. 4th 1370, 1382, 75 Cal. Rptr. 3d 9 (2008), the court rejected the argument that the Sunshine Amendment eliminated the mental process principle asserted to protect the motives and thought processes of local legislators (not state legislators), and characterized the principle as rooted in state and federal constitution law, as well as statutory law under the CPRA’s Section 6254(k) (incorporating other prohibitions established by law), both of which the court said were expressly preserved under the Sunshine Amendment. Nevertheless, a constitutional right of access arguably would extend to records of the Legislature not exempt or otherwise protected under existing law.

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  • Colorado

    The records of the General Assembly are covered by the Act.

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  • Connecticut

    The legislative branch is subject to FOIA. Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-200(1). See also Conn. Gen. Stat. §2-23 (copies of bills, resolutions, and records of hearings and proceedings shall be kept at state library for public inspection).

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  • Delaware

    Legislative bodies are covered by the Act. However, the General Assembly, or any caucus thereof, or committee, subcommittee, ad hoc committee, special committee or temporary is specifically exempted. 29 Del. C. § 10002(c); News-Journal Co. v. Boulden, 1978 WL 22024 (Del. Ch. May 24, 1978). For example, the Wilmington City Council is covered. News-Journal Co. v. McLaughlin, 377 A.2d 358 (Del. Ch. 1977).

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  • District of Columbia

    The Act applies to any "public body," including the Council of the District of Columbia. See D.C. Code Ann. § 2-502(18A) (defining "public body" as including the Council); Vining v. Council of D.C., 140 A.3d 439, 449 (D.C. 2016) (holding that D.C. FOIA requires disclosure of D.C. Council records).

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  • Georgia

    The Open Records Act specifically exempts from its disclosure requirements records and work product relating to communications between the Office of Legislative Counsel and members of the General Assembly, the Lieutenant Governor and persons acting on their behalf, O.C.G.A. § 50-18-75, as well as certain records related to the provision of staff services to individual members of the General Assembly by the Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office, the Senate Research Office and the House Research Office, § 50-18-72(a)(12). See Institute for Justice v. Reilly, ___ Ga. App. ___, 830 S.E.2d 793, 2019 Ga. App. LEXIS 437, 2019 WL 2754557 (2019) (the General Assembly and its offices are not subject to the provisions of the Open Records Act).

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  • Hawaii

    The State Legislature is subject to the UIPA, but Section 92F-13(5) provides an exception for "[i]nchoate and draft working papers of legislative committees including budget worksheets and unfiled committee reports; work product; records or transcripts of an investigating committee of the legislature which are closed by rules adopted pursuant to Section 21-4 and the personal files of members of the legislature." Legislative rules provide that committee reports (as opposed to drafts) are public records.

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  • Idaho

    The definition of “state agency” in the Public Records Act also includes all legislative bodies. Idaho Code § 74-101(15). The records maintained by officers of all legislative bodies, except as expressly provided otherwise by law, are open to the public.

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  • Illinois

    Public bodies whose records are subject to the Act include legislative bodies. See 5 ILCS 140/2(a). It should be noted that records of officers and agencies of the General Assembly that pertain to the preparation of legislative documents are exempt from disclosure if those records are in the nature of preliminary drafts, notes, recommendations, memoranda and other records in which opinions are expressed, or policies or actions are formulated. 5 ILCS 140/7(1)(f) (emphasis added).

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  • Indiana

    Unless covered by a specific exemption, all records of legislative bodies are subject to the Act. Ind. Code § 5-14-3-2; see also Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana v. Koch, 51 N.E.3d 236, 241 (Ind. 2016) (holding that the Access to Public Records Act applies to the General Assembly). However, the Indiana Supreme Court has held that separation of powers considerations prevent the courts from enforcing the access statutes against the Indiana General Assembly. State ex rel. Masariu v. Marion Superior Court No.1, 621 N.E.2d 1097, 1097 (Ind. 1993). On the other side of the coin, the Indiana Court of Appeals held that APRA did not require a small claims court to produce a documents describing the court’s administration, reasoning that doing so would amount to legislative intermeddling with the judiciary. Woolley v. Washington Twp. of Marion Cnty. Small Claims Ct., 804 N.E.2d 761, 766 (Ind. Ct. App. 2004).

    Further, the Indiana Supreme Court has limited its interpretative authority under Indiana Code Section 5-14-3-4(b), which excepts “work product of individual members and partisan staff of the general assembly” from the Access to Public Records Act. Koch, 51 N.E.3d at 242. The Court held that the issue of whether the documents the plaintiffs sought were “legislative work product” was a non-justicable question. Id.

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  • Iowa

    Similarly to how executive branch records are treated under the law, no provision is made in the statute for exclusion of records in the custody of legislative bodies or the courts. "It is the nature and purpose of the document, not the place where it is kept, which determines its status." 79 Op. Att'y Gen. 19, 20 (Oct. 9, 1979). Des Moines Indep. Cmty. Sch. Dist. Pub. Records v. Des Moines Register & Tribune Co., 487 N.W.2d 666, 670 (Iowa 1992) ("The nature of the record is not controlled by its place in a filing system."). But see Des Moines Register & Tribune Co. v. Dwyer, 542 N.W.2d 491, 503 (Iowa 1996) (finding that the Senate decision to keep the records in question confidential falls within the constitutionally granted power of the Senate to determine its rules of proceedings under Iowa Const. Art. III, § 9). The Dwyer decision puts separation of powers considerations into issue both as to legislative and judicial branch records, although the Supreme Court has analyzed access issues involving its documents as if the open records act applies.

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  • Kansas

    Legislative bodies are subject to KORA under the definition of public agencies set forth in K.S.A. 45-245(f)(1), but records “which are made, maintained or kept by an individual who is a member of the legislature or of the governing body of any political or taxing subdivision of the state” are not public records under the KORA K.S.A. 45-217(g)(3)(B).  This provides is intended to “exclude records kept by individual members but not records of the governing bodies they serve.  It excuses individual members of such governing bodies from the burden of producing records that they maintain personally in their performance of official duties, but the records  of the governing bodies they serve are still considered public records and thus must be made available.  The person seeking the records of the governing body must get them from the central office rather than from the individual.”  Ted Frederickson, Letting the Sunshine In, 33 Kan. L. Rev. 205, 221 (Winter 1985).

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  • Kentucky

    The General Assembly is not exempt from the Open Records Act. "The General Assembly did not exclude itself from the Open Records Act, but made the Act binding upon itself by defining the term public agency to include 'any body created by state or local authority in any branch of government.'" 98-ORD-92 (citing Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.870(1)(g)). "Every state or local legislative board" is a public agency under the Open Records Act. Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.870(1)(c).  Unlike other public agencies, however, the General Assembly’s Legislative Research Commission (instead of the Attorney General) reviews appeals of open records denials by the legislature. See Ky. Rev. Stat. 7.119(3).

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  • Louisiana

    Legislative bodies are covered by the statute. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 44.1. See Times-Picayune v. Johnson, 645 So. 2d 1174 (La. App. 4th Cir. 1994), writ denied, 651 So. 2d 260 (La. 1995) (individual legislators are "custodians" of nomination forms for legislative scholarships to private university). In Copsey v. Baer, 593 So. 2d 685 (La. App. 1st Cir. 1991), writ denied, 594 So. 2d 876 (La. 1992), however, the court held that the legislative work files related to two bills from prior sessions of the Louisiana legislature were privileged from public records disclosure under the legislative privileges and immunities clause of the Louisiana Constitution, Article III, §  8. The court found that the "demand for legislative files in this case calls for an inquiry into the motivations behind the preparation and introduction of legislative instruments into the Louisiana Legislature. . . ." Id. at 689.

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  • Maine

    Records of the Legislature are subject to the Freedom of Access Act, but legislative papers and reports, working papers, drafts, internal memoranda, and similar works in progress are not public until signed and publicly distributed in accordance with rules of the Legislature. 1 M.R.S.A. § 402(3)(C).

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  • Maryland

    The PIA applies. The records of all units or instrumentalities of State government or of a political subdivision of the State concerning the affairs of government and the official acts of public officials and employees are subject to the PIA. See §§ 4-101(i), (j). The public record statute pertains whether the document was made or merely received by the instrumentality. § 4-101(i)(1)(i).

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  • Michigan

    Agencies, boards, commissions, or councils in the legislative branch of the state government are included in the FOIA's definition of "public body." Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 15.232(d)(ii). State legislators themselves are exempted from its provisions. 1985-86 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 6390 (1986).

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  • Montana

    The Public Records Act does not specifically exempt legislative records. Further, the Montana Constitution, Article V, § 10(3), requires that "(t)he sessions of the legislature and of the committee of the whole, all committee meetings, and all hearings shall be open to the public." Although no court has addressed legislative records, this constitutional mandate for open meetings coupled with the lack of exemption on legislative branch records all lean in favor of openness.

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  • Nebraska

    The definition of public records above appears to include records of legislative bodies as well. Neb. Const. Art. III, §11, however, provides "the Legislature shall keep a journal of its proceedings and publish them (except such parts as may require secrecy)."

    The Legislature enacted an express exception to the public records statutes for “correspondence, memoranda, and records of telephone calls related to the performance of duties by a member of the Legislature, in whatever form.” Neb. Rev. Stat. §84-712.05(12). Creation of an exception for certain legislative records implies that the Legislature considers itself subject to the public records statutes.

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  • Nevada

    The NPRA has been interpreted not to apply to the Nevada Legislature. The Legislative Counsel Bureau concluded that the NPRA cannot constitutionally be applied to legislative materials because (1) such an application would conflict and interfere with the exclusive and paramount constitutional powers of each House of the Legislature under Article 4, Section 6 of the Nevada Constitution to determine the rules of its proceedings; (2) such an application would conflict and interfere with the constitutional doctrines of separation of powers and legislative privilege and immunity as recognized under Article 3, Section of the Nevada Constitution and statutorily codified in NRS 41.071; (3) the Legislature and its agencies, members, officers and employees do not come within the statutory definition of "governmental entity" and; (4) legislative materials do not come within the ordinary definition of "public books and public records" as those terms are used in the Public Records Law. LCB Memorandum re: Written response to public records request made by Ms. Michelle C. Rindels, March 3, 2016; see also NRS 41.071.

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  • New Hampshire

    The Statute’s definition of “public body” covers “[t]he general court [i.e., the New Hampshire House and Senate] including executive sessions of committees; and including any advisory committee established by the general court,” as well as “[a]ny legislative body, governing body, board, commission, committee, agency, or authority of any county, town, municipal corporation, school district, school administrative unit, chartered public school, or other political subdivision, or any committee, subcommittee, or subordinate body thereof, or advisory committee thereto.”  Nevertheless, in Hughes v. Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, 152 N.H. 276 (2005), the Court held that the Statute did not apply to a House and Senate conference committee on a bill concerning school funding.  “[W]e hold that the public interesting in protecting the legislature’s prerogative to set its own procedural rules and engage in free and frank debate significantly outweighs the public’s right of access to the contested negotiations.”  Id. at 295.  The Court also held that whether the defendants had violated the Statute was “a non-justiciable political question.”  Id. at 287.  The plaintiff, a member of the House, claimed that the closed conference committee proceedings violated the Statute.  See also, Union Leader v. Speaker, 119 N.H. 442 (1979)(Statute does not require disclosure of tape recording made by the House of Representatives).

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  • New Jersey

    A government record shall not include information received by a member of the Legislature from a constituent or information obtained by a member of the legislature concerning a constituent, including but not limited to, information in written form or contained in any e-mail or computer database, or in any telephone record whatsoever, unless it is information the constituent is required by law to transmit.

    A government record shall also not include any memorandum, correspondence, notes, report or other communication prepared by or for the specific use of a member of the Legislature in the course of the member's official duties, except that this provision shall not apply to an otherwise publicly accessible report that is required by law to be submitted to the Legislature or its members.

    See N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1.1

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  • New Mexico

    Although the Legislature is subject to the Inspection of Public Records Act, NMSA 1978 § 14-2-6(F), (2013), the Legislature maintains that Legislators’ emails are not public, pursuant to Joint Rules of the House and Senate (Rule 12-1).

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  • North Carolina

    Most records of legislative bodies are covered by the law, but a separate statute allows legislators to maintain the confidentiality of their requests to the legislative staff for information or drafting assistance. G.S. § 120-129. The Attorney General has opined that correspondence sent to legislators by their constituents is public.  Att’y Gen. Opn, 2002 WL 544469, at *1 (N.C.A.G. Feb. 14, 2002) (“We therefore are of the opinion that written and electronic communications between a legislator and a member of the public about redistricting are generally public records, regardless of whether those communications occur before or after the enactment of a redistricting plan.”)

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  • North Dakota

    All legislative bodies are covered by the open records law. However, it is worth noting the following records, regardless of form or characteristic, of or relating to the legislative counsel, the legislative management, the legislative assembly, the House of Representatives, the Senate, or a member of the legislative assembly are not subject to the law: records of a purely personal or private nature, records that are legislative council work product or legislative council-client communication, records that reveal the content of private communications between a member of the legislative assembly and any person, and (except with respect to a governmental entity determining the proper use of telephone service) records of telephone usage that identify the parties or list the telephone numbers of the parties involved. None of these exceptions apply to records distributed at open meetings. N.D.C.C. § 44-04-18.6.

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  • Ohio

    The Ohio Supreme Court declined to order a state legislator to release copies of emails about specified legislation because the legislator already had released all existing emails to the requester, making the suit moot. Neither the court nor the legislator raised any doubt that the statute applied. No one raised constitutional separation of powers either. State ex rel. Glasgow v. Jones, 119 Ohio St.3d 391, 894 N.E.2d 686, 2008-Ohio-4788, ¶ 19. The constitutional doctrine of separation of powers may inhibit the statute's application to the state legislature in some contexts. See State ex rel. Plain Dealer Publishing Co. v. City of Cleveland, 75 Ohio St.3d 31, 661 N.E.2d 187 (1996).

    In the meantime, the General Assembly has immunized certain classes of its internal legislative records from the Public Records Act, specifically records that arise out of the relationship between legislative staff and a member of the General Assembly, but are not filed with the clerk of the General Assembly, presented at a committee hearing or floor session. Ohio Rev. Code § 101.30.

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  • Oklahoma

    Records of the legislature or of individual legislators are not subject to the Act except for records kept and maintained on receipt and expenditure of any public funds reflecting all financial and business transactions relating thereto. 51 O.S. § 24A.3.2.  However, a copy of a written or electronic communication "created by" a third-party public body or official and sent to a legislator would be a record of the creating public body or official subject to the Oklahoma Open Records Act in its custody, control or possession. A written or electronic communication from a legislator sent to a third-party public body or official would become a "record" upon being "received by" the public body or official and thereby become subject to the Act in the custody, control or possession of the third-party public body or official. 2008 OK AG 19.  Records of expenses incurred by employees of the Legislature in the performance of their official duties or authorized actions which are reimbursed by the Legislature are public records.  2008 OK AG 19.   A written request for the issuance of a formal written Attorney General Opinion made by a member of the Legislature is a record under the Act.  2015 OK AG 3.

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  • Oregon

    The records of legislative bodies other than the state legislature are subject to inspection under ORS 192.314 (formerly ORS 192.420) and the definitions of ORS 192.311(4) (formerly ORS 192.410). The state Legislative Assembly is not subject to the Public Records Law. ORS 192.311(6) (formerly ORS 192.410); see also ORS 171.405 (no requirement to keep records of acts of legislature other than enrolled laws and joint resolutions themselves) and ORS 192.005(5)(b) and (6)(b).

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  • Pennsylvania

    The Act applies to “legislative agencies.” This “includes any of the following: (1) The Senate. (2) The House of Representatives. (3) The Capitol Preservation Committee. (4) The Center for Rural Pennsylvania. (5) The Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee. (6) The Joint State Government Commission. (7) The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee. (8) The Legislative Data Processing Committee. (9) The Independent Regulatory Review Commission. (10) The Legislative Reference Bureau. (11) The Local Government Commission. (12) The Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing. (13) The Legislative Reapportionment Commission. (14) The Legislative Office of Research Liaison. (15) The Legislative Audit Advisory Commission.” 65 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 67.102.

    Legislative agencies are required to provide access to “legislative records” as set forth in the Law.  Examples include financial records, bills or resolutions that have been introduced, and proposed regulations.  The old act did not apply to the legislative branch of state government.  See Commonwealth v. Fenstermaker, 530 A.2d 414 (Pa. 1987).

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  • Rhode Island

    Subject to the APRA.  R.I. Gen. Laws §  38-2-2(1) (2012)

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  • South Carolina

    "Memoranda, correspondence, and working papers in the possession of individual members of the General Assembly or their immediate staffs" are exempt from disclosure, but the exemption is not to be construed to limit public access to "source documents or records, factual data or summaries of factual data, papers, minutes, or reports otherwise considered to be public information . . . and not specifically exempted by any other provisions." S.C. Code Ann. § 30-4-40(a)(1). Other than this "working papers" exception, other records of the General Assembly are subject to the same provisions as other public records.

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  • South Dakota

    Legislative bodies are included as a “branch” of the state. SDCL §1-27-1.1.

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  • Tennessee

    The joint legislative services committee has sole authority to determine whether any member of the public may be permitted access to the legislative computer system in which confidential information is stored or processed. T.C.A. § 3-10-108(a). Direct access to such a computer may not be permitted unless protection of any confidential information is ensured. § 3-10-108(b). No information available in printed form may be obtained from the legislative computer system pursuant to the Open Records Act. § 3-10-108(c). A legislator's e-mail is subject to the Act if it was made or received in connection with the transaction of official business. Op. Atty Gen. No. 05-099 (June 20, 2005).

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  • Texas

    the Act, which exempts certain categories of information pertinent to the legislature. Drafts or working papers involved in the preparation of proposed legislation are excluded from the Act. Tex. Gov’t Code § 552.106; see also Tex. Att’y Gen. ORD-380 (2003) (certain information related to proposed adult entertainment business licensing ordinance excepted from disclosure because it reflected internal policy judgments, recommendations, and proposals).

    Private correspondence or communications by an elected office holder, the disclosure of which would constitute an invasion of privacy, are excepted from the Act. Tex. Gov’t Code § 552.109. This exception applies only to correspondence sent out by the official, not to correspondence that is received by the official.  In addition, this exemption only protects the privacy interests of the public official. See Tex. Att’y Gen. ORD-473 (1987). It does not protect the privacy interests of the person discussed in the communication or the privacy of the recipient of the communication although it may be appropriate to redact the parties’ names such as those of students and parents under related statutes.  See Tex. Att’y Gen. ORD-332 (1982).

    Certain records of communications between citizens and members of the legislature or the lieutenant governor may be confidential by statute. Tex. Gov’t Code § 552.146.  Exempt correspondence includes handwritten notes on a personal calendar. See Tex. Att’y Gen. ORD-145 (1976).

    An itemized list of long distance calls made by legislators and charged to their contingent expense accounts is not excepted because such a list is not a “communication.” See Tex. Att’y Gen. ORD-40 (1974). See also Tex. Att’y Gen. ORD-636 (1995) (cellular billing records are generally considered public information).

    Section 552.111 exempts from disclosure interagency or intraagency memoranda or letters that would not be available by law to a party in litigation with the agency.

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  • Utah

    Legislative bodies subject to GRAMA include “the Office of the Legislative Auditor General, Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst, Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel, the Legislature, and legislative committees.” Utah Code § 63G-2-103(11)(a)(ii). GRAMA also extends to any “office, agency, board, bureau, committee, department, advisory board, or commission” of the above-named entities if the office, agency, board, etc. “is funded or established by the government to carry out the public’s business.” Id. § 63G-2-103(11)(b). GRAMA does not apply to “any political party, group, caucus, or rules or sifting committee of the Legislature.” Id. § 63G-2-103(11)(a)(ii). However, the Legislature and its staff offices are not subject to GRAMA’s fees or appeals provisions. See id. § 63G-2-703(2)(a). In addition, all letters of inquiry submitted by any judge at the request of any judicial nominating committee shall be classified as private under GRAMA. See id. § 67-1-2(4)(a).

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  • Vermont

    There is no case law negating the statute’s apparently broad application to all branches or authority of the State.  See 1 V.S.A. § 317(a)(2) (defining public agency as “any agency, board, department, commission, committee, branch, instrumentality, or authority of the State or any agency, board, committee, department, branch, instrumentality, commission, or authority of any political subdivision of the State.”) (emphases added).  Accordingly, in the absence of an applicable exemption, the Public Records Act applies to legislative bodies.  See Vt. Const. Ch. II, § 8 (“The doors of the House in which the General Assembly of this Commonwealth shall sit, shall be open for the admission of all persons who behave decently, except only when the welfare of the State may require them to be shut.”).

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  • Virginia

    All legislative bodies qualify as a “public body” subject to the Act.  However, a party caucus is not a public body subject to the Act. See Op. Atty. Gen., Opinion No. 03-063 (January 6, 2004), 2004 WL 256973. See also Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3707.01.C. (party caucus meetings not subject to open meeting rules under the Act).

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  • Washington

    The Washington State Supreme Court has not decided whether the Public Records Act applies to all records of the legislature. Cowles Publishing Co. v. Murphy, 96 Wn.2d 584, 637 P.2d 966 (1981). The Act does apply to administrative records of the Clerk of the State House of Representatives and of the Secretary of the Senate. RCW 42.56.100. In 2018, a trial court held that legislators’ records are subject to the Public Records Act. While an appeal of that decision was pending, the legislature passed a bill that would have largely reversed that decision and exempted all constituent communications from disclosure, while requiring disclosure of a narrow classes of legislative records. Governor Jay Inslee vetoed the bill.

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  • West Virginia

    Records of legislative bodies are subject to the FOIA to the same extent as records of any other public body. In Common Cause of West Virginia v. Tomblin, 186 W. Va. 537, 413 S.E.2d 358 (1991), the state Supreme Court invalidated the process by which the Legislature's Conferees Committee on the Budget traditionally prepared an informal but influential budget "digest" setting forth its view of the specific purposes for which general appropriations should be used. The court ruled the contents of the digest must be determined by the Conferees Committee in a public meeting, and that the Committee must create and maintain for public inspection "memoranda of the negotiations, compromises and agreements or audio recordings of committee or subcommittee meetings where votes were taken or discussions had that substantiate the material which is organized and memorialized in the Budget Digest." Id., Syl. Pt. 5.

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  • Wisconsin

    Legislative records are not exempt.

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  • Wyoming

    The Legislature has exempted itself from much of the reach of the Public Records Act.  W.S. §28-8-116.  Communications of a legislator with staff and constituents are confidential unless waived by the legislator. Draft bills and consultant reports to the Legislature are exempt unless confidentiality is waived by the bill sponsor or the Legislature.

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