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Oregon, Washington Consider Public Records Overhaul

Chris Lehman


SALEM, Ore. - The Attorneys General of Oregon and Washington are asking state lawmakers to make public documents more accessible. A pair of bills in Salem and a hearing Thursday in Olympia come in response to critics who say obtaining government records is too expensive and takes too long.


Oregon Attorney General John Kroger wants to create strict deadlines for public agencies to respond to records requests. His proposal would also cap the amount that agencies can charge, and it would reduce the types of information that are exempt from public disclosure requirements.

Jon Bartholomew of the consumer group OSPIRG says the proposal is a good start, but he asks why can't agencies just put more public records online?

Jon Bartholomew: "The agencies can post the information once, and then everybody can access it equally without having to take state officials' time to retrieve the information for them."

In Washington, Attorney General Rob McKenna wants to create a new office to handle public records requests. Lawmakers there have balked at the cost of similar proposals in the past.

In Oregon, a spokesman for Kroger says the attorney general's proposals would have little to no fiscal impact on state government.

On the Web:

Washington House Bill 1044:

Oregon Senate Bill 41:

Oregon Senate Bill 47:

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network