Opponents say open records bill would hurt access
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Allowing government entities to charge for the time spent deleting confidential information would limit the public’s access and make it easier for bureaucrats to hide information, opponents of a proposed change in the law told legislators Wednesday.
The Republican-backed bill stems from a Wisconsin Supreme Court case last year that said charging for the time spent on deleting confidential information was illegal. The proposal, introduced by Rep. Garey Bies, R-Sister Bay, would effectively negate that ruling.
The committee took no immediate action on the bill, which would have to be passed by both the Assembly and Senate and be signed by Gov. Scott Walker before becoming law.
Supporters of the measure — including groups representing Wisconsin counties, towns, the University of Wisconsin and the Milwaukee Police Department — argued that it made sense to allow for the charges because of the time and expense involved with processing the volume and breadth of open records requests being filed.
“There has to be a balance, there has to be a sharing of cost in responding to some of these requests,” said bill supporter Melanie Rutledge, assistant city attorney for Milwaukee. Members of the city’s police force who process open records requests joined Rutledge in supporting the measure.