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A. Exemptions in the open records statute


  • Arizona

    There are no specific exceptions to disclosure codified in the Arizona Public Records Law.

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  • Arkansas

    (This section is blank. See the subpoints below.)

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  • Connecticut

    (This section is blank. See the subpoints below.)

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  • Georgia

    The Act’s statutory exemptions, now several score in total, have grown in the number over the years and were codified in 2012 at O.C.G.A. § 50-18-72(a).

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  • Kentucky

    Certain records are excluded from the Kentucky Open Records Act’s mandate of disclosure and may only be viewed pursuant to court order. If, however, a public record contains both exempt and non-exempt material, a public agency must omit the exempted information from the record and provide a redacted copy of the nonexempt material. Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.878(4).

    No exemption in the section can be construed to prevent the disclosure of statistical information not descriptive of any readily identifiable person. Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.878(2).

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  • Massachusetts

    A record in public control is presumed to be public and within the Public Records Act. G.L. c. 66, § 10(c); 950 C.M.R. 32.08(4); Worcester Telegram & Gazette Corp. v. Chief of Police of Worcester, 436 Mass. 378, 382-83, 764 N.E.2d 847, 852 (2002). Statutory exemptions are to be strictly and narrowly construed. Attorney Gen. v. Assistant Comm’r of the Real Prop. Dep’t of Boston, 380 Mass. 623, 625 (1980); Attorney Gen. v. Bd. of Assessors of Woburn, 375 Mass. 430, 432 (1978). The Secretary of the Commonwealth has stated that the custodian has the burden of showing not only that an exemption applies, but also why the record should be withheld. See also G.L. c. 66, § 10(c); District Attorney for the Norfolk Dist. v. Flatley, 419 Mass. 507, 511 (1995) (custodian must offer specific proof that the documents sought are of a type to which an exemption applies).  If an exemption permits withholding of part of a requested government document, the non-exempt part of the document must be produced once the exempt portions are redacted out – even if the exempt and non-exempt portions are “intertwined.” G.L. c. 66, § 10(a); Reinstein v. Police Comm’r of Boston, 378 Mass. 281, 289-90 (1979) (exemptions are not blanket in nature).  “After a redaction takes place, [the custodian] must explain in writing to the requester what information was redacted and the specific reasons why the record was sanitized.  The remaining portions of the record must then be released.”  SPR Bulletin 3-03, Public Record Requests and C.O.R.I. (Nov. 21, 2003) (noting that witness and victim’s names and addresses may be selectively redacted from police records).

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  • Rhode Island

    The APRA lists 25 exemptions to the public disclosure requirement in the form of limitations on the definition of “public records.”  R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-2(4)(A)-(AA).

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  • South Carolina

    Exemptions are found in two places in the Act. Some records that would otherwise be included within the definition of a "public record" have been excluded from the statutory definition so as to put them beyond the reach of the statute. The records range from library patron information to security plans. S.C. Code Ann. § 30-4-20(c).

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  • South Dakota

    Twenty-seven categories of records are “not open to general inspection and copying.” SDCL §1-27-1.5. In addition, the law provides specific exemptions for a handful of other records. SDCL §1-27-1.6, 1.7, 1.8 and 1.9.

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  • Texas

    The Act "does not authorize the withholding of public information or limit the availability of public information to the public, except as expressly provided" by the Act.  Tex. Gov’t Code § 552.006. The Act lists more than forty categories of exceptions.  Tex. Gov’t Code §§ 552.101 et seq.

    However, these exceptions do not apply to certain categories of information explicitly deemed public in Section 552.022(a), and such information must be disclosed unless it is "expressly confidential under other law." § 552.022(a); In re City of Georgetown, 53 S.W.3d 328, 331 (Tex. 2001) (holding that the Texas Rules of Evidence and Rules of Civil Procedure are "other law" that may render information described in Section 552.022(a) confidential and not subject to mandatory disclosure). The categories of information set forth in Section 552.022(a) are:

    1. a completed report, audit, evaluation, or investigation made of, for, or by a governmental body, except as provided by Section 552.108;
    2. the name, sex, ethnicity, salary, title, and dates of employment of each employee and officer of a governmental body;
    3. information in an account, voucher, or contract relating to the receipt or expenditure of public or other funds by a governmental body;
    4. the name of each official and the final record of voting on all proceedings in a governmental body;
    5. all working papers, research material, and information used to estimate the need for or expenditure of public funds or taxes by a governmental body, on completion of the estimate;
    6. the name, place of business, and the name of the municipality to which local sales and use taxes are credited, if any, for the named person, of a person reporting or paying sales and use taxes under Chapter 151, Tax Code;
    7. a description of an agency's central and field organizations, including:

    (A) the established places at which the public may obtain information, submit information or requests, or obtain decisions;

    (B) the employees from whom the public may obtain information, submit information or requests, or obtain decisions;

    (C) in the case of a uniformed service, the members from whom the public may obtain information, submit information or requests, or obtain decisions; and

    (D) the methods by which the public may obtain information, submit information or requests, or obtain decisions;

    1. a statement of the general course and method by which an agency's functions are channeled and determined, including the nature and requirements of all formal and informal policies and procedures;
    2. a rule of procedure, a description of forms available or the places at which forms may be obtained, and instructions relating to the scope and content of all papers, reports, or examinations;
    3. a substantive rule of general applicability adopted or issued by an agency as authorized by law, and a statement of general policy or interpretation of general applicability formulated and adopted by an agency;
    4. each amendment, revision, or repeal of information described by Subdivisions (7)-(10);
    5. final opinions, including concurring and dissenting opinions, and orders issued in the adjudication of cases;
    6. a policy statement or interpretation that has been adopted or issued by an agency;
    7. administrative staff manuals and instructions to staff that affect a member of the public;
    8. information regarded as open to the public under an agency's policies;
    9. information that is in a bill for attorney’s fees and that is not privileged under the attorney-client privilege;
    10. information that is also contained in a public court record; and
    11. a settlement agreement to which a governmental body is a party.


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  • West Virginia

    "Three cardinal rules must be remembered in any FOIA case regardless of which exemption is claimed to be applicable. First, the disclosure provisions are to be liberally construed. Second, the exemptions are to be strictly construed. Finally, the party claiming exemption from the general disclosure requirement . . . has the burden of showing the express applicability of such exemption to the material requested." Daily Gazette v. W. Va. Development Office, 198 W. Va. 563, 482 S.E.2d 180 (1996), Syl. Pts. 1 and 2 (“Gazette I”)(citations omitted). As noted, in 2003, the state Legislature amended W. Va. Code § 29B-1-4 adding eight new exemptions relating to limiting terrorists access to sensitive information; in 2009 three additional exemptions were added by amendment to FOIA.  See W. Va. Code § 29B-1-4 (9)-(21).

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