Public records overhaul bill heard in Senate subcommittee

The South Carolina Statehouse. Grace Beahm/Staff

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Newspaper editors say a new office to consider disputes over Freedom of Information Act requests in South Carolina would give people a less expensive way to fight governments when records requests are denied.

A Senate subcommittee listened Wednesday to testimony on a bill overhauling state public record laws. The proposal passed the House and would clarify how quickly governments must respond to requests. It also would prevent them from charging excessive fees.

The bill also creates an Office of Freedom of Information Act to resolve disputes outside of Circuit Court.

The Index-Journal of Greenwood Executive Editor Richard Whiting says a lawsuit by his newspaper to get dashcam video of a city councilwoman’s arrest cost his paper $7,000. He says a regular citizen likely couldn’t afford that.

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More hearings are planned.