Three bills seeking to improve the state’s right to know law cleared legislative hurdles Thursday.
The most significant, SB 355, establishes a citizens’ right-to-know appeals commission and the office of the right-to-know ombudsman. The bill also creates an alternative process to resolve right-to-know complaints.
SB 355 passed the Senate on 13-11 vote.
The bill is the result of a right to know study commission established in the previous legislative session to consider right to know law reforms.
The House Thursday approved two other right to know reform bills.
HB 1788 caps the amount governments and public agencies can charge for copies of documents at $.10 a page. It passed 181-149. There was no previous limit and the bill’s advocates testified some government agencies have charged as much as $2 a page.
On a much closer 168-161 vote, the House also backed HB 1579 which covers meetings of strategy or negotiations with respect to collective bargaining.
Those meeting are exempt from the right to know law, but beginning next year, records of all such convenings must be kept and “shall include the name of the collective bargaining units discussed.” In addition, “consultation with legal counsel provided; that records of all such convenings … shall include the name of the legal counsel and the means by which the legal counsel participated in the convenings, whether in person, by telephone, or by other appropriate means.”