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.
The state of state public records laws continues to evolve as lawmakers discuss new legislation, court rulings clarify ambiguities in records law, and advocates press for better access. To get a sense of what’s happening, we’ve compiled a list of recent changes to access all across the country. If we missed news in your state, let us know by filling out the form below!
The Massachusetts Governor’s Office is exempt from state records law, but still accepts requests on a case-by-case basis
Three years ago, Massachusetts legislators revised the state’s public records law with the ostensible goal of increasing access. And yet, the law is still considered one of the most restrictive in the country - in no small part owing to the fact that the Bay State remains the only state in which all three branches of its state government are exempt from disclosure.
New proposed changes to FOIA law in Washington D.C. could block access to government emails dealing with “matters unrelated to public employees and officials’ work,” among other restrictions.