STATE LAWMAKERS CONSIDER
FEES (TAX) TO INSPECT PUBLIC RECORDS
BY: PAT HUNTER
Do you believe that citizens have right to know? Do you believe in open and transparent government? As we speak state lawmakers consider a house and senate bill that would allow government to impose fees (tax) to inspect records. Public records keep you informed. The public has a right to know how government is proceeding. If you wanted to know how the politicians and bureaucrats spend your hard earned money, what do you think about the idea of having to pay to look at public records?
HB1875 – by Rep, Curry Todd would allow government to charge fees to inspect records. This bill will be discussed and voted on by the General Subcommittee of House State & Local Government. This proposed legislative bill would make it more costly for citizens to see public records. Currently, all residents of the State of Tennessee may inspect public records at no charge. Taxpayers also pay for government personnel wages and salaries, insurance, benefits, pension plans, etc.
There is a big concern by open government advocates who believe that if this bill if enacted to law it may have a chilling affect on open government, and may limit citizen and press access to public records.
This bill would authorize government (local, county, city, school board, utilities, state, etc.) to impose a fee to cover “actual labor costs” if “the time that is reasonably required to perform the activities that are necessary to produce records pursuant to a request totals one (1) hour or longer.” "The “labor cost” is defined as the "base hourly wages of any employees whose labor is reasonably necessary to locate, retrieve, review, redact, and copy records that have been requested multiplied by the number of hours that the employees were engaged in any such activities while producing records pursuant to a request." This could be very costly if 1, 2 or 3 employees were assigned to your public records request.
If you made a request to view financial records from the Loudon County Finance Dept. the hourly rate of pay for office personnel time would vary from a low of $15.63 per hour ($32,510.40 yearly) to $18.48 ($38,438.40 yearly). If the Finance Director's help is needed to assist with the records, her yearly pay would be $68,175.12 yearly rate or over $30.00 per hour (est).
Taxpayers already pay to maintain public records; why should you pay a second time to see the records?
have said government cannot use unreasonable fees to discourage records
requests, and if this bill is enacted to law
it would do just that.
it would do just that.
Please share this link with others by email or with friends, family, co-workers, seniors, civic clubs, etc. I have listed toll free phone numbers for people who wish to call Committee and local state officials (Senator McNaly, Rep. Jimmie Matlock, Rep. Julia Hurley).
HOW YOU CAN HELP?
YOUR VOICE COUNTS. PLEASE SHARE YOUR CONCERNS BY EMAIL OR PHONE TO ALL MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE & Senator McNally, Rep. Jimmie Matlock, Rep. Julia Hurley.
Email addresses, and toll free phone numbers included for those who wish to express their concerns to all legislators.
1. Curry Todd, R-Collierville
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Ramsey, R-Maryville, Chairman
3. Haynes, R-Knoxville
4. Brown, D-Chattanooga
5. Cobb, R-Spring City
6. McCormick, R-Chattanooga
7. Miller, D-Memphis
8. Mike Turner, D-Nashville
9. Kent Williams, R-Elizabethton
PLEASE SHARE YOUR CONCERNS WITH LOUDON COUNTY STATE OFFICIALS
SENATOR MCNALLY, REP. JIMMY MATLOCK AND REP. JULIA HURLEY.
1. Senator McNally
2. Rep. Jimmy Matlock
3. Rep. Julia Hurley