Legislature considers bills to limit public records access

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SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Legislature is considering 46 bills that would limit access to public records, including documents related to state investigations, trade secrets, personal medical information, election security, crime victims’ identities and more.

The Statesman Journal reports the reasons for limiting public disclosure of these documents are enumerated in so-called open-government impact statements that, for the first time during a regular legislative session, are required to be completed for every bill introduced.

When the Legislature took on Oregon’s public records exemptions in 2017, one of the bills it passed created the Oregon Sunshine Committee. The group reviews all of the state’s public records disclosure exemptions.

That same law also required Legislative Counsel to prepare open-government impact statement for every measure to identify if it would make the state more or less transparent, or have no impact.

More than 2,500 bills have been introduced this session, and about 80 were determined by the Legislature’s lawyers to have an impact on the public’s access to records. About half of those bills have since died in committee.

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