Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Indiana governor vetoes bill to allow fees for public records searches; legislature could override

Indiana Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb has vetoed legislation "that would have allowed units of government to charge the public up to $20 an hour for producing public records," Kaitlin L. Lange reports for The Indianapolis Star. "Both chambers can still override his veto with a simple majority." The legislation "would have allowed an hourly charge to kick in for a records search requiring more than two hours of work. It also required government units to offer electronic versions of documents if requested, which Holcomb supported."

Holcomb said in a statement Monday, "I view this proposed legislation as contrary to my commitment to providing great government services at a great value for Hoosier taxpayers. Providing access to public records is a key part of the work public servants perform and is important from a government transparency standpoint." Lange notes that Vice President Mike Pence, then governor, "struck down a similar bill two years ago, saying, 'The cost of public records should never be a barrier to the public’s right to know'."

The legislation passed easily in the House (63-27) and Senate (44-3), with advocates saying "fulfilling the large amount of records requests that are filed can be time-consuming for public agencies," Lange writes. Critics "worried the extra fee would be 'cost prohibitive' for concerned citizens, including journalists, to find out how taxpayer money is being spent and to hold elected officials accountable."

No comments: