The Oregon House today unanimously passed the Attorney General’s public record reform legislation, Senate Bill 481. The bill will now move to the Governor’s desk.
“When it comes to public records requests, Oregonians are entitled to both transparency and timeliness. I am proud to have spearheaded the most significant reform to our public records law in over 40 years,” said Attorney General Rosenblum. “When the Governor signs this bill into law, for the first time ever there will be deadlines by which records requests must be acknowledged and records turned over by public agencies–or an explanation must be given for any delay. My office will be charged with cataloguing all exemptions that are spread out throughout the Oregon statutes. I’d like to thank all of our legislative sponsors for their support championing these important changes.”
Under SB 481:
- Public bodies will be required to acknowledge receipt of public records requests within five business days, and will then have no more than 10 business days from acknowledgment to either to fully respond to the request or to provide a written statement explaining when the request will be fulfilled.
- The Attorney General’s office will be tasked with cataloguing all 500-plus public record exemptions spread throughout the Oregon statutes.
Several other related bills are still under consideration. One, SB 106, introduced by Governor Brown, would create a public records advocate to educate and facilitate resolutions of requests. Another, HB 2101, introduced by Representative Huffman, would create a new committee to focus on addressing exemptions and would require transparency impact statements.
Senate Bill 481 is the result of the work by the Attorney General’s Public Records Law Reform Task Force. The task force was formed in September 2015 as a way to promote greater transparency in government. Its purpose is to review and recommend specific improvements to Oregon’s public records laws.
Kristina Edmunson, Department of Justice, Kristina.Edmunson@doj.state.or.us, 503-378-6002