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NO. 132.  AN ACT RELATING TO THE PUBLIC RECORDS ACT AND APPLICATION OF THE DELIBERATIVE PROCESS PRIVILEGE.

(H.615)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  1 V.S.A. § 317(c) is amended to read:

(c)  The following public records are exempt from public inspection and copying:

* * *

(4)  records which, if made public pursuant to this subchapter, would cause the custodian to violate any statutory or common law privilege other than the common law deliberative process privilege as it applies to the general assembly and the executive branch agencies of the state of Vermont;

* * *

Sec. 2.  1 V.S.A. § 318(a)(2) is amended to read:

(2)  if the custodian considers the record to be exempt from inspection under the provisions of this subchapter, he the custodian shall so certify in writing stating his reasons for denial of access to the record.  Such certification shall identify the records withheld and the basis for the denial.  The certification shall be made within two business days, unless otherwise provided in subdivision (5) of this subsection.  The custodian shall also notify the person of his right to appeal to the head of the agency any adverse determination;

Sec. 3.  SECRETARY OF ADMINISTRATION REPORT

The secretary of administration shall submit an annual report to the house and senate committees on government operations on January 15.  The report shall include a list of the written public records requests received for the prior calendar year for each state agency; the number of records delivered or withheld by each state agency; the number of records that could not be located by each state agency; and the agency time needed to respond to each request.

Sec. 4.  LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL STUDY

The legislative council, in consultation with the state archivist, the public records specialists in the department of buildings and general services, the agency of administration, the division of vital records in the department of health, the Vermont league of cities and towns, the Vermont municipal clerks and treasurers association, and other interested parties, shall study the public records law of the state of Vermont as set forth in chapter 5 of Title 1, 3 V.S.A. § 218, and the numerous exemptions to the public records requirements throughout the Vermont statutes.  On or before January 15, 2007, the legislative council shall report to the house and senate committees on government operations.  The report shall include:

(1)  A summary of the statutory requirements and organization of the state public records requirements;

(2)  An analysis of the ease of access and use of public records under the existing state public records requirements and any recommendations to improve use of and access to public records;

(3)  An analysis of the need and justification for each of the existing exemptions in statute to the inspection and review requirements of the public records act;

(4)  A review of the management and administration of public records requirements by the department of buildings and general services, other state agencies, and municipalities;

(5)  A summary of the pending federal regulations for the administration, issuance, and inspection of vital records and a review of how such regulations will impact Vermont public records management and inspection;

(6)  A summary of the enforcement of public records requirements in the state, including the ability of an aggrieved person to appeal a decision of a public agency, and a summary of public records enforcement and appellate authority in other states; and

(7)  Proposed legislation to amend, reorganize, and simplify the public records requirements of the state of Vermont.

Approved:  May 4, 2006



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us