This time, the people won out.
For the first time in a quarter century, public records will be more open to the people. That should translate into greater accountability from government.
The legislation, which Gov. Phil Bredesen is expected to sign into law, creates an Office of Open Records Counsel. The ombudsman will serve as a resource if citizens run into roadblocks regarding access to public records. The office will develop a reasonable fee schedule for records requests that take longer than five hours to fulfill.
It gives records custodians no more than seven days to respond to requests or explain why they need more time. Currently, there is no deadline for responding to requests.
A committee also will be created to consider problems such as excessive fees and long delays that people might encounter from less-than-helpful public servants.