Spotlight: Public Records Reform

40 Years in the Making: Updating Oregon’s Public Records Laws

Transparency in government is more than a buzzword in our state; it’s something that many of us are deeply committed to. The strength of Oregon’s government depends on public trust, which is why updating Oregon’s Public Records law is important to Oregon Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum.

In Oregon, a public record is any writing with information about the conduct of public business that a public body creates, own, uses or keeps. That includes official reports, as well as emails, meeting notes, calendar information and other documents.

During the 2017 Oregon legislative session, Attorney General Rosenblum successfully advocated for legislation to update procedures for obtaining public records. Senate Bill 481 » is the most significant Public Records Law reform in 40 years. It gives public bodies 5 business days to acknowledge receipt of a public records request, and requires them to either complete their response no later than 10 days later, or else explain when the records will be available. In all cases, public bodies are required to complete their responses as soon as reasonably possible.

The new law also gives people requesting public records a clear right to appeal when they believe that a public body is unreasonably slow to respond. And finally, the new law creates the state’s first searchable electronic database of public records exemptions, allowing the public to more easily understand what types of records are protected from disclosure.

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