State of State Public Records Laws
More often than not, requesters face crucial barriers to obtaining access to government records. Whether it be exemptions to records, access to certain areas of government, or grey areas within public records law, the rules to getting the documents differ across the board.
Within states, FOIA serves as a framework to public records law, yet, each state has the ability to create their own set of guidelines as they deem fit. Since many of our public records laws do not transcend state lines, being knowledgeable on your state laws is crucial in filing a records request.
In a goal to arm requesters with knowledge, we’re launching a new project page hosting state-by-state public record law stories and key players fighting for transparency in those states. Do you want to know what Tennessee lawmakers have to say about their 500+ state exemptions? Are you looking for your state’s costliest public records request? Or maybe you just want to know which legislatures are exempt from public records laws. Whatever your public record inquiries are, our new State of the State Public Records Law Project will give you a more comprehensive look at public records law in action.
Additionally, we want to make sure we’re highlighting your own public records stories. Let us know what’s happening with your state records law and share your own personal roadblocks to getting the documents. By filling out the form below, you can help contribute to our ongoing coverage of state law and help answer questions other requesters may have.
David Cuillier is an associate professor in the School of Journalism at The University of Arizona. He specializes in public records reporting and co-wrote the book, The Art of Access: Strategies for Acquiring Public Records, the second edition of which is being released this month. The book teaches journalists and involved citizens how to gain access to public records, which he says is an art that requires understanding of the system and human behavior. For this week’s Requester’s Voice, Cuillier spoke to MuckRock about his book and the study he worked on this past year.
This week’s FOIA round-up: the ethics of mining in Minnesota, problems with for-profit companies in the legal system, and ICE detention records contradict Trump administration statements on migrants
In this week’s FOIA round-up, calendars and emails reveal communication between Trump administration officials and corporate executives in a mining project, a contract with a private pretrial services firm raises questions about the role of for-profit companies in the legal system, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention records reveal that rates of people detained with criminal records has decreased in the past couple of years. Also, a Supreme Court ruling is bad news for people seeking government records pertaining to private entities.
The 86th Texas Legislative session ended on May 27th, and just last week, Governor Greg Abbot finished signing bills into law. According to the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, 193 of those bills discussed were related to public records - three of which deserve particular attention.