AG John Kroger keeps some promises

12/20/2010: Attorney General John Kroger has followed through with the promise he made during his Transparency Town Halls this summer, proposing two substantial improvements to Oregon's public records law.

LC 865 is here. From the summary:
Establishes deadlines by which public bodies must respond to public records requests. Provides exceptions.  Delays application of deadlines to local governments until July 1, 2013. Provides exceptions. Limits amount of fees public bodies may charge for responding to public records requests. Provides exceptions. Establishes jurisdiction of Attorney General to hear petitions for review of public records in custody of elected officials by persons denied right to inspect records. Requires Attorney General to develop training materials on public records. Declares emergency, effective on passage.
LC 876 is here:
Requires certain governing bodies of public bodies to make audio, audio-video or digital recording of public meetings. Requires written record of meetings and specifies content of written record. Requires recordings and related written records to be available within seven working days of meeting or within one working day of request to review or inspect, whichever is later. Requires Attorney General to develop training materials to educate public employees on public meetings law requirements.  Declares emergency, effective on passage. 
Kroger apparently has decided not to pursue his plans to rationalize the many exemptions to the public records law, at least for now.  In my opinion he has his priorities right. State agencies routinely use delays and fees to stall and frustrate people's right to know what their government is doing, and the revisions Kroger has proposed address both those important issues. His proposal on audio-video recordings of public meetings - and the 7 day deadline - is also right on target.

I've been a skeptic on the seriousness of Kroger's willingness to take political risks to fix Oregon's disastrous public records situation. This is because of the retrograde public records opinions coming out his office - like this absurdity from his Deputy AG, Mary Willliams. These proposed legislation changes make me want to change my mind.