Sam Olens thinks “too many government agencies are not taking [the Open Records Act] seriously enough.” True enough.

As it stands, the maximum fine for a violation of the Open Records Act is $100, and for a violation of the Open Meetings Act it’s $500. Olens said he wants the maximum penalties for both to be $1,000. Any subsequent violations over the following year by the same agency would cost $2,500 apiece.

Olens said the bill also would require Open Records Act requests to be made in writing, not verbally as allowed under current law. It also would require agencies to immediately prepare and turn over an Open Records Act request if it is expected to cost less than $50. If the request is expected to cost more than $1,000, the agency can require the payment be made before the request is processed.

Excellent.

 

3 Responses to Open Records Act

  1. The Atty. General’s office links to the First Amendment Foundation and other important info. http://law.ga.gov/00/channel_modifieddate/0,2096,87670814_87670967,00.html
    Links provided as courtesy of your friendly neighborhood good government advocates at http://www.commoncausega.org or http://www.facebook.com/CommonCauseGeorgia

  2. Chris says:

    Higher fines for non-compliance are good, but removing the ability to do a non-written request could have bad consequences as well as the ability for some organization to just say “this is expected to cost more than $1,000” in order to get people to back off.

    On the written thing, I have done many open records requests and it can be confusing how exactly to write one for those of us that are non-lawyers. Will the state also put out a generic request form to assist people in this process?

    • Jen B. says:

      I would recommend everyone always submit a written request because it provides cover for when the organization says, “Uh, we never got it.”

      I also agree with this, “as well as the ability for some organization to just say “this is expected to cost more than $1,000″ in order to get people to back off” and suspect there will be litigation.

      Will the state also put out a generic request form to assist people in this process?

      I thought this already existed, but here’s the form Cobb uses in case anyone wants to copy and reformat:

      http://comdev.cobbcountyga.gov/documents/WrittenRequesForCobbCountyOpenecordsPRrl2.pdf