STATEHOUSE – Rep. Kevin Mahan’s (R-Hartford City) legislation concerning public access laws passed the Indiana House of Representatives today with a 90-4 vote.
House Bill (HB) 1093 would institute harsher punishment for public employees and agencies that knowingly withhold or do not accommodate public record requests within a reasonable amount of time. If enacted, a court may impose a civil penalty of up to $100 for the first offense and up to $500 for all additional offenses against an officer, management-level employee or public agency for disregarding the recommendation made by the Public Access Counselor to disclose matters of public record.
Current law allows public officials who deny requests to pay penalties from their respective agency’s general fund. HB 1093 would allow for action to be taken directly against the individual.
“Public access laws in Indiana are very sound and the majority of employees are good public servants, but there are still some individuals – or bad actors – who knowingly deny public information,” said Rep. Mahan. “This bill would impose a more stringent enforcement on those individuals.
“Government transparency is vital to successfully carrying out our jobs and keeping the public involved in the process. We need to ensure that public officials who are impeding on the public’s right to information are accountable for their actions.”
HB 1093 will move to the Senate for further discussion and debate. If signed into law, it will go into effect on July 1, 2012.
To find the most up-to-date bill status, visit www.in.gov/legislative.