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.
For years, quasi-government agencies have operated under grey areas in oversight and accountability. After a number of reports of embezzlement, financial malpractice, and misuse of funds, state governments have started to keep a closer watch on them.
While most states have clear guidelines over whether out of state requests can be rejected, others aren’t so clear - in New Jersey, the Open Public Records Act and governing entities often have contrasting views.
Secretive federal agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are notorious for refusing to confirm or deny the existence of their records. The issue becomes trickier when local law enforcement agencies, tasked with serving their communities, reply to public records requests in similar fashion. The New York Police Department has used the infamous “Glomar response” in the past to keep records secret, but this week a New York court ruled that the NYPD can’t use it this time.