Bill strengthening open records law advances
COLUMBIA — A bill strengthening the state’s freedom of information law is headed to the full House after clearing a key panel this afternoon, but not before the proposal was amended to bar state lawmakers from keeping their communication secret.
Under current state law, state lawmakers are allowed to keep secret their emails, correspondence and working papers.
But just as he did last year, Rep. Rick Quinn, R-Lexington, introduced an amendment to an open records proposal by Rep. Bill Taylor, R-Aiken, spiking the legislative exemption.
The House Judiciary Committee approved the amendment by a 12-10 margin before advancing Taylor’s bill.
Taylor’s measure would reduce the time public bodies have to respond to citizens’ open records requests, limit fees, set stronger penalties for non-compliance, and create a new appeal process for records disputes for citizens and public bodies through the state’s Administrative Law Court.
Judiciary Committee members this afternoon narrowly defeated a separate proposed amendment that would have allowed public officials and employees to conduct public business on personal devices and email accounts but not have the communications be considered public records.
Read more in upcoming editions of The Post and Courier. Reach Stephen Largen at 864-641-8172 and follow him on Twitter @stephenlargen.