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Q. Professional licensing records

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  • Alabama

    1. Attorney discipline: All disciplinary proceedings of the Alabama State Bar closed until the respondent pleads guilty or the Disciplinary Commission makes a finding of guilty, except (1) petitions for reinstatement, (2) proceedings for transfer to disability inactive status, (3) proceedings for interim suspension, (4) character and fitness appeal, (5) all matters regarding surrender of license or public probation, or (6) if the respondent makes the matter public or requests that it be made public. Alabama Rules of Disciplinary Procedure 30(a).

    2. Geologists: Individual test scores and applications for licensing under the Alabama Professional Geologists Licensing Act and material relating thereto, including letters of reference relating to the application closed. Ala. Code § 34-41-15(c).

    3. Nurses: All records of a licensee who successfully completes the disciplinary alternative program of the State Board of Nursing for impaired nurses closed. Ala. Code § 34-21-25(lj)(6).

    4. Physicians, practitioners of healing arts: All hearings, witness testimony, exhibits, and pleadings in hearings by the commission closed.  Ala. Code § 34-24-361.1.

    5. Veterinarians: The records of meetings of Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners closed "to prepare, approve, or grade examinations or to deliberate qualifications of a proceeding to discipline a licensed veterinarian." Ala. Code § 34-29-66(b)(6), (8).

    6. Veterinarians: Information received by the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners through inspections and investigations, except in a proceeding involving the question of license. Ala. Code § 34-29-68.

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  • Alaska

    Title 8 of the Alaska Statues, AS 08.01.010 et seq., governs the regulations of businesses and professions in Alaska.  Nearly four dozen professions are regulated by the state, as noted on the website of the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing. Numerous boards and commissions overseeing various professions have been scheduled by the legislature with termination, if not continued or re-established, as provided in AS 08.03.010, with statutory authority of the terminated board to be transferred to the Department of Commerce. According to the Department’s website investigations are confidential:

    Investigations are required by statute to be kept confidential. This often prevents the complainant, licensee, and the Board from obtaining progress reports or information that may disclose the current status of an open investigation. This also protects the reputation of licensees who may be accused of wrongdoing but the allegations against them are unproven. Cases often involve other agencies, businesses, and practices; disclosing information during an on-going case can compromise the investigation, create conflicts for reviewing Board members, or result in unnecessary hardship to the licensee.

    https://www.commerce.alaska.gov/web/Portals/5/pub/CBPL_Investigative_Process_Explanation.pdf.  However, no statutory authority is cited to support this blanket assertion.  It is true that many statutes governing specific investigations by boards and commissions that license various professions. However, a party seeking particular records may want to require an agency denying access to cite specific authority, as statute vary from one profession to the next in a number of respects, including the stage at which a presumption of confidentiality or openness attaches. A number of examples of such confidentiality requirements are noted in section II.B of this Open Records Guide.

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  • Arkansas

    Many statutes prohibit disclosure of records relating to professional licensing boards. See, e.g., Ark. Code Ann. § 17-14-205 (exempting sample appraisals and other work papers submitted to Arkansas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board); Ark. Code Ann. § 17-90-101 (exempting malpractice lawsuits filed with the State Board of Optometry); Ark. Code Ann. § 17-90-508 (exempting records related to impaired optometrists); Ark. Code Ann. § 17-95-107 (exempting credentialing information submitted to credentialing organizations for medical professionals);

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  • California

    Section 6254(n) of the Government Code does not require disclosure of “[s]tatements of personal worth or personal financial data required by a licensing agency and filed by an applicant with the licensing agency to establish his or her personal qualification for the license, certificate or permit applied for.” Otherwise, licensing records are presumptively public, and the agency must segregate exempt from nonexempt information from the records. Cal. Gov’t Code § 6253(a).

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  • District of Columbia

    Not specifically addressed.  Unlikely to fall within the privacy exemption, D.C. Code Ann. §2-534(a)(2), given that professional licensure is not information that is typically kept private.

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  • Florida

    Professional licensing and employment records, including grievance records, are generally available for public inspection.  See, e.g., Michael v. Douglas, 464 So. 2d 545 (Fla. 1985) (a tax-supported hospital’s employee records are not exempt from Chapter 119); Gadd v. news-Press Publ’g Co.. Inc., 412 So. 2d 894 (Fla. 2d DCA 1982) (hospital personnel files of physicians, as well as minutes and documents pertaining to the hospital’s utilization review committee were not exempt from public inspection); Mills v. Doyle, 407 So. 2d 348 (Fla. 4th DCA 1981) (grievance records of teachers are public records). However, a few statutory exemptions from the act exist, namely while investigations in connection with disciplinary proceedings are pending.  Fla. Stat. § 455.225(10) (2000) (“The complaint and all information obtained pursuant to the investigation by the department are confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) until 10 days after probable cause has been found to exist by the probable cause panel or by the department, or until the regulated professional or subject of the investigation waives his or her privilege of confidentiality, whichever occurs first. However, this exemption does not apply to actions against unlicensed persons pursuant to s. 455.228 or the applicable practice act. Upon completion of the investigation and pursuant to a written request by the subject, the department shall provide the subject an opportunity to inspect the investigative file or, at the subject's expense, forward to the subject a copy of the investigative file. The subject may file a written response to the information contained in the investigative file. Such response must be filed within 20 days, unless an extension of time has been granted by the department. This subsection does not prohibit the department from providing such information to any law enforcement agency or to any other regulatory agency.”); Fla. Stat. § 472.033(10) (2009) (same with respect to land surveying and mapping); Fla. Stat. § 456.073(10) (2008) (same, for health professions and additionally providing that the subject of the disciplinary proceedings receive expert reports and occupations).

    Moreover, “[e]xemption from disclosure under section 119.07(1) does not also exempt a public record from discovery in administrative proceedings. See Dep’t of Prof’l Reg. v. Spiva, 478 So. 2d 382, 383 (Fla. 1st DCA 1985) (unsuccessful applicant for a position as state pilot for the Port of Miami was entitled under discovery rules to exam grade reports for successful applicants where the requested reports were exempt from section 119.07(1) but were relevant and material to the applicant's administrative challenge).”  Dep’t of Health v. Poss, 45 So. 3d 510 (Fla. 1st DCA 2010).

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  • Georgia

    Professional licensing information is not addressed generally by the Act and its accessibility for public inspection varies depending on the professional license in question.  See, e.g., O.C.G.A. § 43-3-25.1 (accountant license applications not subject to disclosure); § 43-40-7(b) (real estate license applications not subject to disclosure but licensee names, disciplinary history and certain other information shall be made reasonably available for public inspection).

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  • Hawaii

    While all government records are subject to the general rule favoring disclosure, Section 92F-12 sets forth a non-exhaustive list of sixteen categories of records that must be disclosed. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92F-12(a)(1)-(16). One such category is the “[r]osters of persons holding licenses or permits granted by an agency which may include name, business address, type of license held, and status of the license.” Id. § 92F-12(13).

    Furthermore, Section 92F-14(b)(7) provides that "[i]nformation compiled as part of an inquiry into an individual's fitness to be granted or to retain a license" is information in which an individual has a substantial privacy interest, but excludes: (a) the record of disciplinary proceedings, (b) information on the current place of employment and required insurance coverage, and (c) the record of complaints. Cf. Access to Contractors License Application Experience Certificates Prior to the Contractors License Board Approval of the Application, OIP Op. Ltr. No. 97-10 (Dec. 30, 1997) (finding a significant privacy interest in experience certificates submitted with an application for a contractors license); Legislative Access to Professional and Vocational Licensing Application Data, OIP Op. Ltr. No. 90-10 (Feb. 26, 1990) (prohibiting even interagency disclosure and citing privacy concerns of both the UIPA and prior law); c.f. Applications for Appointments to Boards and Commissions, OIP Op. Ltr. No. 91-8 (June 24, 1991) (allowing interagency disclosure to the legislature of application information submitted to the governor's office but requiring confidentiality pursuant to privacy interests of applicants). But see Painting Industry of Hawaii Market Recovery Fund v. Alm, 69 Haw. 449, 453-54, 746 P.2d 79, 82 (1987) (refusing to protect licensing violation settlement agreement); Clarification of OIP Op. Ltr. No. 91-1, OIP Op. Ltr. No. 91-11 (July 30, 1991) (requiring disclosure pursuant to Section 452-9 governing applications received by the Board of Massage), superseding Public Access to Massage Therapist License Applications, OIP Op. Ltr. No. 91-1 (Feb. 15, 1991) (refusing access to pending applications under Section 92F-14(b)(7)). The law does not protect from disclosure "[r]osters of persons holding licenses or permits granted by an agency . . . ." Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92F-12(a)(13) (Supp. 1999) (requiring disclosure).

    The Professional and Vocational Licensing Division of the State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs licenses various professionals. It maintains a computerized roster showing the name, address, and type of license held by each individual licensee. The names and type of license held by each individual are matters of public record. Att'y Gen. Op. Ltr. No. 84-13 (Dec. 18, 1984); see also OIP Op. Ltr. No. 91-11 (July 30, 1991) (concerning statutorily mandated disclosure of massage therapist license applications).

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  • Idaho

    Any personal records, other than names, business addresses and business phone numbers, submitted to any public agency or independent public body pursuant to a statutory requirement for licensing, certification, permit or bonding are exempt from disclosure. Idaho Code § 74-106(8).

    In addition, unless otherwise provided by agency rule, information obtained as part of an inquiry into a person’s fitness to be granted or retain a license or certificate is exempt from disclosure. However, any agency which has records exempt from disclosure under the provisions of this subsection shall annually make available a statistical summary of the number and types of matters considered and their disposition. Idaho Code § 74-106(9).

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  • Illinois

    These records are available, but subject to redaction for privacy exemptions.

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  • Indiana

    There is no statutory provision or case law on professional licensing records generally. However, Indiana Code Section 5-14-3-4(a)(7) prohibits agencies from disclosing “[g]rade transcripts and license examination scores obtained as part of a licensure process,” and Indiana Code Sections 5-14-3-4(b)(3)­, (4) gives agencies discretion to disclose “[t]est questions, scoring keys, and other examination data used in administering a licensing examination . . . .” and “[s]cores of tests if the person is identified by name and has not consented to the release of the person’s scores.” Additionally, professional licensing records could be limited if they are included in personnel files. See Ind. Code § 5-14-3-4(8).

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  • Iowa

    “[A]ll complaint files, investigation files, other investigation reports, and other investigative information in the possession of a licensing board or peer review committee acting under the authority of a licensing board or its employees or agents which relates to licensee discipline are privileged and confidential . . . .” Iowa Code § 272C.6. “[A] final written decision and finding of fact of a licensing board in a disciplinary proceeding . . . is a public record.” Id.

    Internal audit reports of a pharmacy department are not covered by this section. See Hall v. Broadlawns Med. Ctr., 811 N.W.2d 478, 484–85 (Iowa 2012) (finding an internal audit report that pharmacist in charge of hospital pharmacy created following diversion of controlled substances by another pharmacist did not fall within statutory provision according privileged and confidential status to information that is in the possession of a licensing board or peer review committee and relates to licensee discipline, though in-charge pharmacist simultaneously provided copies of report to Board of Pharmacy, to his employer, and to hospital; his purpose was to find out what was going on in pharmacy as rapidly as possible and to take appropriate action, and did not relate in any way to board's deliberative actions of preparing an open records request).

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  • Kansas

    Not specifically addressed.

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  • Kentucky

    Generally open. See 15-ORD-011.

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  • Louisiana

    Should be public records unless otherwise exempt.  See La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 4:4(9), (11), (12), (26), (29), (32), (35), (39), (46), (51) and (53).

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  • Maine

    Professional licensing records are generally available to the public at the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation’s website,  https://www.pfr.maine.gov/almsonline/almsquery/welcome.aspx.

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  • Maryland

    Although a person's occupational or professional licensing records are generally exempt, the exemption does not apply to that part of a public record that gives the licensee's name, business address (or home address in the absence of a business address), business telephone number, educational and occupational background, professional qualifications, any orders and findings resulting from formal disciplinary actions, and any evidence that has been provided to the custodian to meet the requirements of a statute as to financial responsibility. § 4-333(b). Note that a member of the General Assembly may acquire the names and addresses of and statistical information about individuals who are licensed or, as required by a State law, registered. § 4-103(c).

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  • Michigan

    Not specifically addressed.

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  • Minnesota

    Names and addresses submitted by applicants for professional licenses (other than the home addresses of applicants for peace officer licenses) are public data; all other data is private. Minn. Stat. § 13.41, subds. 2 and 3.

    Home addresses of any applicants or licensees with the Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training are to be kept private. Minn. Stat. § 13.41, subd. 3.  However, license numbers, license status, and continuing education records issued or maintained by the Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training are public data. Minn. Stat. § 13.41, subd. 5.

    If a licensing agency conducts a public hearing considering a disciplinary action against any licensee, the records of such hearing are public. Minn. Stat. § 13.41, subd. 5. Additionally, if a licensee and the licensing agency agree to resolve a complaint without a hearing, the agreement and the specific reasons for the agreement are also public data. Id.

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  • Mississippi

    Availability of records depends on each agency, but generally whether an individual is licensed in a particular area, and the date and expiration of that license are typically available, usually on regulating agency’s Website.  Other information, including personnel matters, are typically not available.

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  • Montana

    Unless the licensing records involve discipline they are generally open.

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  • Nebraska

    Not addressed in public records statutes.

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  • Nevada

    See Donrey of Nevada, Inc. v. Bradshaw, 106 Nev. 630 (1990).

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  • New Hampshire

    Teacher certification records are exempt. See RSA 91-A:5,V. Neither the Statute nor case law addresses this issue with regard to other professional licenses.

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  • New Jersey

    Licensing records held by public agencies are “government records” under OPRA.  They may, however, be exempt from access under one of the specific exemptions contained in OPRA or under a separate statute or other legal authority pertaining to the specific license and/or record at issue.

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  • New Mexico

    Licenses are public but some portions of the record may not be. NMSA 1978 § 14-2-1(B) exempts portions of information concerning licensing, including letters of reference.

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  • New York

    Presumably open, but there is no law that speaks directly to the issue.

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  • North Carolina

    Access to professional licensing records and discipline differ among the various licensing statutes. Typically, whether an individual is licensed, the status of their license (i.e. active, inactive, suspended, revoked) and matters of significant licensure related discipline are public. Similarly, licensing board’s investigatory files are not typically public.

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  • North Dakota

    Personal information regarding a licensee maintained by an occupational or professional board, association, state agency, or commission created by law is exempt. N.D.C.C. § 44-04-18.1(4).

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  • Ohio

    Test materials and other evaluation tools related to licensure as a nursing home administrator are not public records. Ohio Rev. Code § 149.43(A)(1)(u).

    Certain records related to investigations of applicants for insurance producers’ license are confidential. Ohio Rev. Code § 3905.24.

    Criminal background checks prepared for purposes of licensing certain gaming/casino employees. Ohio Rev. Code § 3772.07.

    Contents of a Certified Grievance Committee investigator’s file investigating an attorney for allegations of ethical misconduct are confidential under Gov. Bar R. V, Section 5(H), and attorney work product, and are not public records. State ex rel. Parisi v. Dayton Bar Ass'n Certified Grievance Comm., 103 N.E.3d 179, 2017-Ohio-9394, ¶ 94.

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  • Oklahoma

    Oklahoma has numerous licensing boards.  Under the Oklahoma Open Records Act, the records of all boards are public.  The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals has held that the Board of Medical Licensure is a public body subject to the Open Records Act.  Bd. of Medical Licensure v. Miglaccio, 1996 OK CIV APP 37.  The Attorney General has also stated that “a licensing board’s disciplinary files, subject to limited exceptions, are treated as public records.”  2017 OK AG 12, ¶ 7.

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  • Pennsylvania

    Professional licenses are publicly available via the Commonwealth’s
    online license verification service, found here: https://www.dos.pa.gov/ProfessionalLicensing/VerifyaProfessional/Pages/default.aspx. Disciplinary or corrective action taken by the 29 professional licensing boards, commissions, and Notaries Public can be obtained here: https://www.dos.pa.gov/ProfessionalLicensing/VerifyaProfessional/DisciplinaryActions/Pages/default.aspx#.VBG8xvldUQ0.

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  • Rhode Island

    No specific exemption.

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  • South Carolina

    If held by a public body, these record would be subject to disclosure; however, professional disciplinary files may be withheld from disclosure in certain instances. See S.C. Lawyers Weekly v. Wilson (S.C. App., 2018).

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  • South Dakota

    Presumably, the names of those with professional licenses are open records.  The status of disciplinary records is less certain.  See SDCL 1-25-2, which has an internal conflict.

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  • Tennessee

    Presumably open.

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  • Texas

    Not specifically addressed.

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  • Utah

    Occupational and professional licenses are normally public, but access may be restricted to the extent that a record is expressly exempt from disclosure. Id. § 63G-2-301(3)(r).

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  • Vermont

    Lists of professional or occupational licensees are available under the Public Records Act.  See 1 V.S.A. § 317(c)(10).  The Office of Professional Regulation maintains a register of all complaints against professional licensees which is a public record, however, the type of information available is prescribed by statute and is very limited if complaints do not result in disciplinary charges.  See 3 V.S.A. § 131.

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  • Virginia

    There is a general discretionary exclusion for tests or examinations relating to the evaluation of qualifications for any license issued by a public body. Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3705.1.4.  Under the provision concerning records recorded in or compiled exclusively for closed meetings, Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3705.1.5., qualifying records relating to discussions of professional disciplinary proceedings may be withheld.  See Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3711.A.27 (professional disciplinary proceedings closed meeting exclusion).

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  • Washington

    Licensing test questions and other examination material are exempt from disclosure under RCW 42.56.250(1). Professional growth plans in educator license renewals are exempt under RCW 42.56.250(3). Statutes outside the Public Records Act may require confidentiality of other specific professional licensing records, and would operate as “other statute” exemptions under the PRA.

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  • West Virginia

    Applicants for licenses to practice certain professions are required to submit to criminal background checks. Those professions include medicine and surgery, podiatrists, physician assistants, dentists, pharmacists, professional and practical nurses, optometrists, veterinarians, osteopathic physicians and surgeons, psychologists and school psychologists. W. Va. Code § 30-1D-1(c)(5) declares that criminal history and related records from these background checks are not “public records” as defined by FOIA. Id.

    Reports prepared by physicians and other healthcare providers diagnosing sexual transmitted diseases that are filed with municipal officers and the state director of health are confidential and not subject to the disclosure provisions of the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act. W. Va. Code § 16-4-6(c).  These reports, however, are “open to inspection by the director of the division of health, and by local health officers, or officers whose duties are connected with executing the laws against these diseases[.]” Id. “[A]ny person who knowingly and willfully divulges or discloses any information” about these reports may be subject to fines and criminal prosecution. Id.

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  • Wyoming

    The decisions by professional licensing boards are open to the public, while the underlying investigative records are not.

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