State records commissions

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In an attempt to reduce the number of open records lawsuits hitting the dockets of state courts every year, a number of states have adopted records commissions to provide an intermediate step in resolving records disputes or to assist in determining records preservation and destruction schedules. The powers of these records commissions include powers ranging from setting policy on the maintenance and destruction of records, to advising the legislature on new laws, to actually determining if records are subject to exemption and conducting investigations and hearings on records denials. Currently 14 states possess records commissions. Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Pennsylvania and Utah (6) all have records departments with the power to settle disputes. Alabama, Georgia, Maryland and Tennessee (4) all have commissions which regulate retention and destruction schedules. The remainder have advisory commissions dealing with both standard FOIA questions and FOIA problems relating to new technology. This page is dedicated to tracking the progression of the growth of this new wave of records commission. It provides links to our pages on the commission and a brief description of their powers.


Alabama

Alabama State Records Commission

The Alabama Records Commission was established by the Alabama Public Records Law in order to determine which records to keep and which are to be destroyed.

Alabama Local Government Records Commission

The Alabama Local Government Records Commission was established as an extension of the Alabama State Records Commission in order to deal with local governmental records.

Alaska

Alaska does not currently have a state records commission.

Arizona

Arizona does not currently have a public records commission.

Arkansas

Arkansas does not currently have a public records commission.

California

California does not currently have a public records commission.

Colorado

Colorado does not currently have a public records commission.

Connecticut

Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission

The Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission was established by Connecticut statute in order to investigate, try and punish open records and open meetings violations.

Delaware

Delaware does not currently have a public records commission.

Florida

Florida Commission on Open Government

The Florida Commission on Open Government was established by executive order as a temporary committee whose purpose was to evaluate and make recommendations on the Florida Sunshine Law.

Georgia

Georgia State Records Committee

The Georgia State Records Committee was established by the Georgia Open Records Act in order to approve or alter retention schedules proposed by state agencies.

Hawaii

Hawaii Office of Information Practices

The Hawaii Office of Information Practices was established by the Hawaii Uniform Information Practices Act in order to better assist the state in enforcing the state's open records laws.

Idaho

Idaho does not currently have a public records commission.

Illinois

Illinois Public Access Counselor

The 2009 FOIA revisions established the role of the Illinois Public Access Counselor as a position under the Office of the attorney general. To read more about this new position, please see our page entitled, Illinois Public Access Counselor

Indiana

Indiana does not currently have a public records commission.

Iowa

Iowa does not currently have a public records commission.

Kansas

Kansas does not currently have a public records commission.

Kentucky

Kentucky does not currently have a public records commission.

Louisiana

Louisiana does not currently have a public records commission.

Maine

Maine Right To Know Advisory Committee

The Maine Right To Know Advisory Committee was established by the Maine Freedom of Access Act in order to better assist the state in developing public records policy and training as well as settling disputes concerning questions of law.

Maryland

Maryland Records Management Division

The Maryland Records Management Division was established by the Maryland Public Information Act in order to better assist the state in determining what records should be preserved for historical interest and what records should be destroyed. While they do not hold hearings or decided cases about open records violations, they do possess a considerable amount of historical power, shaping what records are preserved by the state and permitting the destruction of current records.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts does not currently have a public records commission.

Michigan

Michigan does not currently have a public records commission.

Minnesota

Minnesota does not currently have a public records commission.

Mississippi

Mississippi does not currently have a public records commission.

Missouri

Missouri does not currently have a public records commission.

Montana

Montana does not currently have a public records commission.

Nebraska

Nebraska does not currently have a public records commission.

Nevada

Nevada does not currently have a public records commission.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire Right-to-Know Oversight Commission

The New Hampshire Right-to-Know Oversight Commission was established by the New Hampshire Right to Know Law in order to better assist the state in evaluating the open records law regarding electronic communication and expand the law to account for new technological developments.

New Jersey

New Jersey Government Records Council

The New Jersey Government Records Council was established by statute and is charged with enforcing the provisions of the New Jersey Open Public Records Act.

New Mexico

New Mexico does not currently have a public records commission.

New York

New York Committee on Open Government

The New York Committee on Open Government was formed by statute to oversee FOIL and open meetings laws and advise on transparency questions.

North Carolina

North Carolina does not currently have a public records commission.

North Dakota

North Dakota does not currently have a public records commission.

Ohio

Ohio does not currently have a public records commission.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma does not currently have a public records commission.

Oregon

Oregon does not currently have a public records commission.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Office of Open Records

The Pennsylvania Office of Open Records (OOR) is a state run agency in Pennsylvania formed with the goal of enforcing the state's open records law. The director of the office is Terry Mutchler.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island does not currently have a public records commission.

South Carolina

South Carolina does not currently have a public records commission.

South Dakota

South Dakota does not currently have a public records commission.

Tennessee

Tennessee Public Records Commission

The Tennessee Public Records Commission was established by the Tennessee Open Records Act in order to better assist the state by establishing records retention and destruction schedules. While they do not hold hearings or decided cases about open records violations, they do possess a considerable amount of historical power, shaping what records are preserved by the state and permitting the destruction of current records.

Tennessee Office of Open Records Counsel

The Tennessee Office of Open Records Counsel is a state-run office aimed at assisting citizens in gaining access to open records in Tennessee. The office is staffed by ombudsmen Ann Butterworth, open records director and Elisha Hodge, open records specialist.

Texas

Texas does not currently have a public records commission.

Utah

Utah State Records Committee

The Utah State Records Committee was established by the Utah Government Records Access and Management Act in order to better assist the state in enforcing the open records act by approving records retention and disposal schedules and holding hearings to decide appeals for records requests.

Vermont

Vermont does not currently have a public records commission.

Virginia

Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council

The Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council was established by the Virginia Freedom of Information Act as an advisory council to the legislature, in order to better develop policy and facilitate compliance with the law.

Washington

Washington Sunshine Committee

The Washington Sunshine Committee (officially known as the Public Records Accountability Executive Committee) is a committee formed in the state of Washington to examine exemptions to the state's Washington Public Records Act. When the Public Disclosure Act was approved by voters by initiative in 1972 there were only 10 exemptions to it. In 2007 when Attorney General Rob McKenna proposed the formation of the Sunshine Committee there were over 300 exemptions.[1]

A number of public agencies have recommended starting a public records office. To read our coverage of these suggestions, please see our page entitled: Washington Task Force Suggests New Records Office

West Virginia

West Virginia does not currently have a public records commission.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin does not currently have a public records commission.

Wyoming

Wyoming does not currently have a public records commission.

References