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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Proposed Public Access Reform Draws Bi-Partisan Support

The Time for Transparency Act, which creates as timeline for government officials to respond to public records requests, has brought together some unlikely allies in support of the bill, including the conservative government watchdog group Maine Heritage Policy Center, the Maine Civil Liberties Union, the Maine Press Association, and both Republican and Democratic Lawmakers.

The proposal would require government officials to produce public records within 10 days of a request. Under current law, they are given five days to tell the requester whether the document sought is a public record. The bill would also allow people to request copies of public records by phone, and would allow a copies to be mailed if the requester pays for postage. The bill also proposes that every governmental body designate an existing employee to serve as a public information officer to oversee all public records requests.

The Maine Freedom of Information Coalition is not supporting the bill because of concern that the longer deadline would prolong the response time for information that is clearly public records.

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