An Act To Amend the Laws Governing Freedom of Access
Sec. 1. 1 MRSA §402, sub-§1-B is enacted to read:
Sec. 2. 1 MRSA §406, as amended by PL 1987, c. 477, §4, is further amended to read:
§ 406. Public notice
Public notice shall must be given for all public proceedings as defined in section 402, if these proceedings are a meeting of a body or agency consisting of 3 or more persons. This notice shall must be given in ample time to allow public attendance not less than 3 days prior to the public proceeding and shall must be disseminated in a manner reasonably calculated to notify the general public in the jurisdiction served by the body or agency concerned. In the event of an emergency meeting, local representatives of the media shall must be notified of the meeting, whenever practical, the notification to include time and location, by the same or faster means used to notify the members of the agency conducting the public proceeding.
Sec. 3. 1 MRSA §408, as amended by PL 2009, c. 240, §4, is further amended to read:
§ 408. Public records available for public inspection and copying
(1) The agency or official has the technological ability to produce the public record in that medium or can obtain the assistance necessary to produce the public record at a reasonable cost; and
(2) The requester agrees to pay the agency's or official's costs to purchase and install any additional necessary computer software or hardware to accommodate the request and to copy the public record in a requested medium.
Sec. 4. 1 MRSA §408-A is enacted to read:
§ 408-A. Timelines
Sec. 5. 1 MRSA §408-B is enacted to read:
§ 408-B. Inspection by requester
Sec. 6. 1 MRSA §410, as repealed and replaced by PL 1987, c. 477, §6, is amended to read:
§ 410. Violations; injunction
For every willful violation of this subchapter, the state government agency or local government entity whose officer or employee committed the violation shall be is liable for a civil violation for which a forfeiture fine of not more than $500 may be adjudged.
The Superior Court may issue an injunction to enforce the provisions of this chapter against any agency or official. A motion for an injunction is privileged in respect to its assignment for hearing and trial over all other actions except writs of habeas corpus and actions brought by the State against individuals.
Sec. 7. 1 MRSA §412, as amended by PL 2007, c. 576, §2, is further amended to read:
§ 412. Public records and proceedings training for certain elected officials and public access officers
An elected official or public access officer meets the training requirements of this section by conducting a thorough review of all the information made available by the State on a publicly accessible website pursuant to section 411, subsection 6, paragraph C regarding specific guidance on how a member of the public can use the law to be a better informed and active participant in open government. To meet the requirements of this subsection, any other training course must include all of this information and may include additional information.
This section also applies to a public access officer designated pursuant to section 413, subsection 1.
Sec. 8. 1 MRSA §413 is enacted to read:
§ 413. Public access officer; responsibilities
Sec. 9. Appropriations and allocations. The following appropriations and allocations are made.
ATTORNEY GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF THE
Administration - Attorney General 0310
Initiative: Provides funds for a part-time Assistant Attorney General position to act as the public access ombudsman and general operating expenses required to carry out the purposes of this Act.
POSITIONS - LEGISLATIVE COUNT
|GENERAL FUND TOTAL||$67,120||$70,576|
This bill increases governmental transparency by enhancing the existing freedom of access laws to provide deadlines for responses to requests for public records, to ensure that requesters can access public records in the format requested and to require the designation of public access officers for every agency and political subdivision.
The bill provides funding for an Assistant Attorney General position located in the Office of the Attorney General to act as the public access ombudsman, which is a part-time position.