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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Voluminous Request FOIA Bill - Both Houses Override Veto

We previously reported on HB 3796 that would provide some relief to public bodies from FOIA requests that fall within the bill's definition of "voluminous request."  The bill provides additional time to respond and authority to charge additional fees to respond to these type of requests.  Another part of the bill (discussed below) states that public bodies do not have to provide public records in response to a FOIA request if those records are on the public body's website. 

The bill had initially passed both houses, but was vetoed by the Governor.  Yesterday, the Senate voted to override the Governor's veto (the House had approved the override last month), which is good news for public bodies.

Here's a reminder of what a "voluminous request" would be under this bill:
"Voluminous request" means a request that: (i) includes more than 5 individual requests for more than 5 different categories of records or a combination of individual requests that total requests for more than 5 different categories of records in a period of 20 business days; or (ii) requires the compilation of more than 500 letter or legal-sized pages of public records unless a single requested record exceeds 500 pages. "Single requested record" may include, but is not limited to, one report, form, e-mail, letter, memorandum, book, map, microfilm, tape, or recording.
Another provision of this bill that has been less publicized adds a new section 8.5.  That section provides that a public body need not provide records in response to a FOIA request if those records are published on the public body's website.  This should encourage public bodies to place more information and records on their website.  The new section is below:
  Sec. 8.5. Records maintained online. 
   (a) Notwithstanding any provision of this Act to the contrary, a public body is not required to copy a public record that is published on the public body's website. The public body shall notify the requester that the public record is available online and direct the requester to the website where the record can be reasonably accessed. 
    (b) If the person requesting the public record is unable to reasonably access the record online after being directed to the website pursuant to subsection (a) of this Section, the requester may re-submit his or her request for the record stating his or her inability to reasonably access the record online, and the public body shall make the requested record available for inspection or copying as provided in Section 3 of this Act.
Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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