Wyoming Sunshine Law

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

The Wyoming Public Meeting 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: Wyoming FOIA procedures

Relevant legal cases

See also: Court cases with an impact on state FOIA

Here is a list of relevant lawsuits in Wyoming. For more information, visit the case page or Wyoming sunshine lawsuits. Cases are listed alphabetically; to order them by year, please click the icon below the "year" heading.

Lawsuit Year
Allsop v. Cheyenne Newspapers 2002
Freudenthal v. Cheyenne Newspapers, Inc. 2010
Houghton v. Franscell 1994
Laramie River Conservation Council v. Dinger 1977
Record-Times, Inc. v. Town of Wheatland 1982
Sheridan Newspapers v. City of Sheridan 1983
Sublette County Rural Healthcare District v. Miley 1997
University of Wyoming v. Gressley 1999
Williams v. Stafford 1979
Workers Compensation Claim of Decker v. State of Wyoming 2008
Wyoming Department of Transportation v. International Union of Operating Engineers Local Union 800 1995
Wyoming Tribune Eagle v. Governor Dave Freudenthal 2010


Proposed changes

2011

See also: Proposed reforms in state sunshine laws, 2011

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


2010

See also: Proposed reforms in state sunshine laws, 2010

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


Wyoming's transparency report card

A 2008 study, BGA - Alper Integrity Index, conducted by the Better Government Association and sponsored by Alper Services, ranked Wyoming #45 in the nation with an overall percentage of 38.60 percent.[1]

A 2007 study, Graded state responsiveness to FOI requests, conducted by BGA and the NFOIC, gave Wyoming 16 points out of a possible 100, a letter grade of "F," and a ranking of 46 out of the 50 states.[2]

A 2002 study, Freedom of Information in the USA, conducted by IRE and BGA, ranked Wyoming's law as the 46th worst in the country, giving it a letter grade of "F."[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 Wyoming law does not contain an explicit declared legal intention.

What records are covered?

See also: Defining public records

The definition of records includes all documents, no matter their physical form, that have been created or received by government agencies in the course of public business.[4]

Exemptions

Notable exemptions include but are not limited to:

  • Law enforcement investigations and security information, including building plans and layouts
  • Examinations
  • Academic research
  • Appraisals for potential land purchases/sales
  • Medical information
  • Limited to the day to day records of patient care and not administrative records. See Houghton v. Franscell
  • Adoption records
  • Information in an individuals personal file excluding documents that outline work agreements
  • Letters of reference
  • Trade secrets
  • Donated library and museum materials
  • Hospital records
  • Student records
  • Individuals library records
  • 9-1-1 calls
  • Internal investigation information

An additional important exception notes that, "If, in the opinion of the official custodian of any public record, disclosure of the contents of the record would do substantial injury to the public interest, notwithstanding the fact that the record might otherwise be available to public inspection, he may apply to the district court of the district in which the record is located for an order permitting him to restrict disclosure."[5]

However, while Wyoming law does not require the separation of exempt from non exempt material, a number of court cases have established this as an appropriate method for insuring the release of non-exempt material despite its commingling with exempt material. See Allsop v. Cheyenne Newspapers and Sheridan Newspapers v. City of Sheridan.

Deliberative process

See also: Deliberative process exemption

What agencies are covered?

See also: Defining public body

Wyoming law covers all branches of government at both the state and local levels.[6]

Legislature

See also: Legislatures and transparency

The legislature falls under the definition of public records found at Wyoming code 16-4-201 and is subject to the Wyoming Sunshine Law.

Privatized governmental agencies

See also: Private agency, public dollars

Wyoming law includes all private agencies that were created by a public body within their definition of public body.[7]

Public universities

See also: Universities and open records

The definition of public body presumably includes public universities within the state. This presumption was confirmed in University of Wyoming v. Gressley which held that the University of Wyoming was in fact a public agency subject to the law. However, testing and exam material and academic research are explicitly exempted under Wyoming statute 16-4-203.

Who may request records?

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

Anyone may request public records in Wyoming. The law states that "the custodian of any public records shall allow any person the right of inspection of the records."[8]

Must a purpose be stated?

See aso: States requiring a statement of purpose

The law does not require a statement of purpose for open records requests.

How can records be used?

See also: Record use restrictions

There are no restrictions placed on the use of open records.

Time allowed for response

See also: Request response times by state

The Wyoming Sunshine Law does not specify response times.

Fees for records

Copy costs

See also: How much do public records cost?

Wyoming law allows fees to be charged for the cost of duplication .[9]

Search fees

See also: Sunshine laws and search fees

Wyoming law allows public agencies to charge fees to cover the cost of collection and assembly.[10]

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 Wyoming Public Meeting Law states that, "the agencies of Wyoming exist to conduct public business. Certain deliberations and actions shall be taken openly as provided in this act."[11]

See also

External links

References