Sunday, March 15, 2015

Education Deregulation Bill Contains Poison Pill For Public Records Requests

It looks like the General Assembly is up to its typical war on government watchdogs. Hidden within SB 500, which pertains to education deregulation, is a completely unrelated provision concerning public records requests made by members of the public. The amendment to the public records law would allow units of government to impose draconian fees for public records requests if the governmental entity says it spends at least two hours searching for any public records requested. The poison pill for public records requests would allow a governmental entity to charge $20 per hour or the hourly rate of the person performing the request, whichever is lesser. You can bet that many governmental entities will use this provision to punish government watchdogs if it becomes law, which is the whole point of those who are behind this bad idea.

The Senate sponsors of SB 500 are Sen. Pete Miller (R-Avon) and Sen. Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn), The House sponsors of the legislation include Rep. Anthony Cook (R-Cicero), Rep. Wendy McNamara (R-Mt. Vernon) Rep. Randy Truitt (R-West Lafayette) and Rep. Terry Gooden (D-Austin). SB 500 passed the Senate on a 31-18 vote. You can view the roll call vote by clicking here. This legislation is identical to legislation the General Assembly tried unsuccessfully to enact last year. One thing you learn when it comes to state legislatures is that bad ideas have a way of coming back over and over again until they finally pass into law when lawmakers think nobody is paying much attention. Once upon a time, the Indianapolis Star and the State House news media would be all over this sort of thing. Unfortunately, many State House reporters, or what's left of them, are more interested in partying with lawmakers and lobbyists during the legislative session than conducting serious news reporting.

Hat tip to the Indiana Law Blog.

UPDATE: I'm told the Hoosier State Press Association actually supports this change in the law. Their reason for supporting it is to quash efforts by citizen bloggers and others not under their thumb from researching corruption within our state and local government. The governmental entities will only levy hefty charges against citizen activists while fulfilling the public records requests of the state-run media for free with a wink and a nod.


Pete Boggs said...

This is patently corrupt, opaque operating- obstruction. These are the tactics of thugs.

Anonymous said...

This issue was presented with a very reliable and honest panel in Nora Library 2 years ago. Open panel with Open awareness...Why weren't you there Gary w the panel? Black listed... Follow the contacts and money..

Anonymous said...

Nothing new here. Thieves don't like to be watched.

Eric Morris said...

Reminds me of the Gospel quote from yesterday, where Jesus is having a discussion with, as my priest described him, "shaker-and-mover" (and later St.) Nicodemus: "For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed."