Local ordinances governing access to public meetings and public records (commonly referred to as sunshine ordinances) often provide for administrative review of agency decisions, though determinations are generally recommendatory and unenforceable. Aggrieved individuals should ascertain whether their municipality has a sunshine ordinance and, if so, what procedures are provided for review of agency denials. Some state agencies may also have similar procedures for review of agency denials.
The Act does not assign enforcement or permit appeals to a specific agency or commission. Actions to enforce the provisions of the Act may be brought in superior court by "any person, firm, corporation, or other entity," or by the Attorney General. O.C.G.A. § 50-18-73(a).
The Iowa Public Information Board was created in 2013 pursuant to Iowa Code Chapter 23. The Board investigates complaints alleging violation of Iowa Code Chapters 21 and 22 and seek resolution to those. The board is authorized by statute to issue advice, or declaratory orders with the force of law, regarding the applicability of the open records and open meetings laws.
Effective July 1, 2015, the Kansas Legislature enacted HB 2256 which made sweeping changes to enforcement provisions of the KORA and Kansas Open Meetings Act. The bill allows the Attorney General, by a preponderance of the evidence after investigation, to find a violation and enter into a consent order with the public agency or issue a finding of violation to the agency prior to filing an action in district court. A consent order, which must be signed by the head of the public agency and any officer found to have violated the statute, may contain admissions of fact, require completion of training approved by the Attorney General, impose a civil penalty of up to $250 for each violation and set forth the agency’s agreement to comply with the requirements of KORA or KOMA. K.S.A. 45-251(a)(1)(A)(ii). A finding of violation may contain orders to cease and desist from further violation, comply with KORA or KOMA, complete training approved by the Attorney General and pay a civil penalty of up to $500 for each violation. K.S.A. 45-251(c)(4)(B).
The Attorney General can then apply to the district court for enforcement in the county where the consent order or finding of violation is issued or is effective. K.S.A. 45-251(c)(2). If the court finds the Attorney General did not abuse their discretion in entering into the order or issuing the finding, the court shall enter an order which enjoins the agency to comply, imposes a civil penalty not less than the amount ordered and not more than $500 for each violation, requires the public agency to pay the Attorney General’s court costs and investigative costs and provides any other remedy the court deems appropriate. K.S.A. 45-251(c)(4). The court may require the public agency to pay the Attorney General’s attorney fees and is required to do so if the violation was not made in good faith and was without reasonable basis in fact or law. K.S.A. 45-251(c)(5)(A).
The bill also creates, in the State Treasury, the Attorney General’s Open Government Fund to be used to carry out provisions of the KORA and Kansas Open Meetings Act. HB 2256 New Sec. 7(a).