MACo Worried About Document Fee “End Run” Possibilities

MACo Policy Associate Alex Butler testified to the House Judiciary, Health & Government Operations Committee on February 12, 2020 to support with amendments HB 401 – Public Information Act – Remote Access, Fee Complaints, Fee Waivers, and Inspection of Judicial Records (Open Government, Better Government Act). This bill would require record custodians waive Public Information Act (PIA) fees for inmates, indigent applicants, and the over-broadly defined “representative of the news media.”

Counties recognizes the importance of the Public Information Act, and counties make good faith efforts to comply with both the letter and the spirit of the law. However, this bill would invite more abusive requests, placing unnecessarily strain on already limited county resources.

From the MACo Testimony:

Counties are generous in granting fee waivers, but will charge fees for time-intensive and costly requests as they put a significant burden on limited county resources. Counties should retain the discretion to grant fee waivers. If an applicant is unsatisfied with the fee amount charged for a request, they have the ability to seek a ruling by the Public Information Act Compliance Board provided the fee is over $350.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2020 legislative session on MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database.