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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ohio Ushers In Some Improvements...

A house bill amending the Ohio Public Records Act is to take effect Saturday with some nice fixes to that state's public records law.

For example, the bill requires the state attorney general to develop and provide to all public offices a model public records policy in order to provide guidance to public offices in developing their own policies for handling public records requests. The public offices are required to adopt their own public records policy; use of the model policy is voluntary.

Also, the attorney general is required to develop, provide and certify training programs and seminars for elected officials to enhance the officials’ knowledge of the duty to provide access to public records.

House Bill 9 also clarifies a few things. For example, as of Saturday, the public records act will note that:

-- A request is not required to be in writing.

-- No public office can require disclosure of the identity of the person requesting the records.

One setback: concealed-carry records.

According to the new law, a journalist may submit to a sheriff a signed, written request to view the name, county of residence and date of birth of each person to whom the sheriff has issued, renewed, suspended or revoked a license or temporary license to carry a concealed handgun.

What does that accomplish, beyond intimidating the requester who has a lawful right to that information?

The full text of House Bill 9 or the bill analysis is available from the Ohio Legislative Services Commission Web site.

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