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H.615

Introduced by   Representatives Klein of East Montpelier, Ancel of Calais, Barnard of Richmond, Botzow of Pownal, Clarkson of Woodstock, Deen of Westminster, Dostis of Waterbury, Edwards of Brattleboro, Errecart of Shelburne, Evans of Essex, Kiss of Burlington, Kupersmith of S. Burlington, Maier of Middlebury, Marek of Newfane, Masland of Thetford, McCullough of Williston, Nuovo of Middlebury, Pellett of Chester, Pillsbury of Brattleboro, Reese of Pomfret and Shand of Weathersfield

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Public records; disclosure; deliberative process privilege

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to clarify that the common law deliberative process privilege is not an exemption to the state public records act and the right to inspect and copy records under that act.  The bill also proposes that when an agency claims a record is exempt from inspection, the agency shall include a list of each record withheld and the specific exemption asserted.  In addition, the bill would require the secretary of administration to report annually to the house and senate committees on government operations the number of public records requests received each year by state agencies and the agency time needed to respond to such requests.

AN ACT RELATING TO THE PUBLIC RECORDS ACT AND APPLICATION OF THE DELIBERATIVE PROCESS PRIVILEGE

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

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

(b)  As used in this subchapter, “public record” or “public document” means all papers, documents, machine readable materials, computer databases, or any other written or recorded matters, regardless of their physical form or characteristics, that are produced or acquired in the course of agency business.  Individual salaries and benefits of and salary schedules relating to elected or appointed officials and employees of public agencies shall not be exempt from public inspection and copying.  The common law deliberative process privilege is not recognized in Vermont, and inter-agency and intra-agency advisory, consultative, or deliberative material shall not be exempt from public inspection and copying unless otherwise exempt under subsection (c) of this section.

Sec. 2.  1 V.S.A. § 317(c)(4) is amended to read:

(4)  except as set forth in subsection (b) of this section, records which, if made public pursuant to this subchapter, would cause the custodian to violate any statutory or common law privilege;

Sec. 3.  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 each record withheld and the specific exemption asserted.  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 the head of the agency any adverse determination;

Sec. 4.  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 the number of public records requests received each year by state agencies and the agency time needed to respond to such requests.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us