Previous private records now open to public
With the governor’s signature Tuesday, legislation was passed that makes significant changes to the open-records law. The bill will make various records that were previously private, such as employment contracts, now public.
Under previous law, all documents identifiable to an individual, subject to a few exceptions, were not public. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Michael J. Marcello and Sen. James C. Sheehan, will apply a balancing test by providing that all records of this nature would be public unless disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. The amended law mirrors the Federal Freedom of Information Act.
As an example, before the legislation was passed the names of individuals who have applied for a judgeship or school superintendent post would not be public unless they are finalists for those positions. Under the new law, it proposes that the public interest outweighs an individual’s right to privacy.