Gov. Ted Kulongoski has signed two bills to accelerate requests for public records and require the release of some information that would be confidential otherwise under attorney-client privilege.
After a June 22 signing ceremony, Kulongoski said Oregon needs to put the public back into its 1973 public-records law, which has been eroded over the years by exemptions approved by lawmakers putting various records out of the public's reach.
"This is a change in direction," Kulongoski said at the signing ceremony. "Maybe it is the first step that we will try to correct a number of these problems."
One of the bills signed by Kulongoski requires government agencies to respond without delay to requests for public documents.
The other requires government agencies to release a condensed version of information that agencies otherwise could withhold from disclosure because of confidentiality of communications between agencies and the lawyers who represent them.
That bill stemmed from a case in which the Klamath County School District hired a lawyer to conduct an investigation into alleged mismanagement. The school board denied a citizen's request for disclosure of the results or the advice given by the lawyer after the investigation.
Both open-records bills — S.B. 554 and S.B. 671 — originated in the Senate Judiciary Committee, headed by state Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland.
"This is the first time in many years that we have taken a major step to make the public-records law more accessible to citizens," Burdick said at the bill-signing ceremony.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Oregon Gov Signs FOI Improvements Bills...
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