Vermont Public Records Law

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The Public Records Law is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels in Vermont.

The Vermont Open Meetings Law legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted.

To learn more about how to make a public records request in this state, please see Vermont FOIA procedures.


Relevant legal cases

See also: Court cases with an impact on state FOIA and Vermont sunshine lawsuits

Here is a list of relevant lawsuits in Vermont (cases are listed alphabetically; to order them by year, please click the icon to the right of the "year" heading).


Lawsuit Year
Clement v. Graham 1906
Matte v. City of Winooski 1970
State of Vermont v. Edgar Whitney 2005
State v. Vermont Emergency Board 1978
Trombley v. Bellows Falls Union High School District 1992


Proposed changes

2011

See also: Proposed reforms in state sunshine laws, 2011


We do not currently have any legislation for Vermont in 2011.


2010

See also: Proposed reforms in state sunshine laws, 2010


We have no current bill pages for Vermont from 2010. This may be due to incomplete research.


Vermont's transparency report card

A 2008 study, BGA - Alper Integrity Index, conducted by the Better Government Association and sponsored by Alper Services, ranked Vermont #49 in the nation with an overall percentage of 34.80%.[1]

A 2007 study, Graded state responsiveness to FOI requests, conducted by BGA and the NFOIC, gave Vermont 62 points out of a possible 100, a letter grade of "D" and a ranking of 12 out of the 50 states.[2]

A 2002 study, Freedom of Information in the USA, conducted by IRE and BGA, ranked Vermont's law as the 10th best in the country, giving it a letter grade of "C."[3]

Features of the law

Sunshine variations Compare States: Sunshine variations
Click on the heading to compare your state's law to other state's transparency laws.

Declared legal intention

See also: Declared legal intentions across the U.S.

The declared legal intention of the Vermont Public Records Law states:

"Officers of government are trustees and servants of the people and it is in the public interest to enable any person to review and criticize their decisions even though such examination may cause inconvenience or embarrassment."[4]

What records are covered?

See also: Defining public records

Public records include all documents, no matter the physical form, that are "produced or acquired in the course of public agency business."[5]

Exemptions

Notable exemptions include but are not limited to:[6]

  • Criminal investigations
  • Tax returns
  • Personal documents, including contact information, application information and financial and medical information
  • Examinations
  • Trade secrets
  • Lists of names that would violate privacy law or be used for commercial purposes
  • Student records
  • Information on potential property sale/purchase or use by the state
  • Records relevant to current litigation
  • Collective bargaining information
  • Information voluntarily provided by corporations
  • Internal investigations of state agencies or employees
  • Library records
  • Archaeological sites
  • Academic research
  • Security information
  • Registered voter information
  • Credit cards and bank account numbers
  • Health records

Deliberative process

See also: Deliberative process exemption

What agencies are covered?

See also: Defining public body

Agencies include all branches of government at both the state and local levels.[7]

Legislature

See also: Legislatures and transparency

The legislature falls under the definition of public body found at Vermont Statute 5-317 and is subject to the Vermont Public Records Law.

Privatized governmental agencies

See also: Private agency, public dollars and Private agency, public dollars-Vermont

The Vermont Public Records Law applies to all private entities that act as an "instrumentality" of the state. However, the act is silent as to what that entails.

Public universities

See also: Universities and open records

The definition of public body presumably includes public universities within the state. However, testing and exam material and academic research are explicitly exempted under Vermont Statute 5-317.

Who may request records?

See also: List of who can make public record requests by state

Anyone may request public documents in Vermont. The law explicitly states that "any person may inspect or copy any public record or document of a public agency."[8]

Must a purpose be stated?

See also: States requiring a statement of purpose

Vermont law does not require a statement of purpose for a records request.

How can records be used?

See also: Record use restrictions

Vermont law places no restrictions on the use of public records.

Time allowed for response

See also: Request response times by state

Request denials must be issued within two days of receiving the records request. This limit can be extended to ten days for unusual circumstances. Vermont law does not prescribe a specific time for the release of records.[9]

Fees for records

Copy costs

See also: How much do public records cost?

Vermont law allows fees to be charged for the cost of copying.[10]

Search fees

See also: Sunshine laws and search fees

Vermont law only allows agencies to charge for the cost of search or compilation if the time required exceeds 30 minutes.[11]

Role of the Attorney General

See also: Role of the Attorney General

There is currently no provision within the state open records law that empowers the State Department of Law to enforce the right of the public to access governmental records.

Open meetings

The declared intention of the Vermont Open Meetings Law states that the "legislature finds and declares that public commissions, boards and councils and other public agencies in this state exist to aid in the conduct of the people's business and are accountable to them."[12]

See also

External links

References