SALEM, Ore. (KOIN 6) — If you’ve ever tried to get your hands on public documents, you may have noticed they don’t come cheap. Now, some Oregon lawmakers said they’re working to change the high price of freedom.
“The 94,000 e-mails released by Governor Brown point show that we are not as transparent as we think we are,” State Representative Julie Parrish told KOIN 6 News.
Representative Parrish from West Linn said it was Governor Kitzhaber’s controversy, and subsequent failure to release e-mails, that showcases why Oregon’s government needs to change for the cheaper.
“We are being stonewalled with time and stonewalled with fees,” she said.
Parrish said a constituent came to her when he was asked to pay an estimated $25,000 for documents from Wasco County.
“Somebody is doing the public’s work to create them, they shouldn’t have to pay extra to retrieve them,” Parrish said.
Parrish said the issue is: Some agencies require you to pay for a worker to look up the documents, and even though taxpayers are already funding workers’ salaries, they’re being double charged to get a hold of these public records.
“Somebody is $40 an hour, somebody is $180 an hour,” Parrish explained. “There’s nothing standard at all.”
According to Parrish, proposed House Bill 3505 would stabilize the costs to five cents per paper copy. If it’s an electronic document, a one cent charge would be made per kilobyte — 300 kilobytes would cost just three dollars.
“It’s clear our statutes are outdated and do not have proper provisions for records being created electronically across a wide variety of platforms, from e-mail to social media tools, and we’re losing the digital public record,” Parrish said in a press release. “It’s a real problem when Oregon citizens are having to pay arbitrary fees for documents that were created and retained with tax dollars.”
The bill is currently in the rules committee, waiting to be scheduled for a hearing. KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story.