Bill seeks to strengthen Alabama’s open records law

Senate committee discusses Open Records bill

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - There is a push in the Alabama Legislature to make the state more transparent.

Senate Bill 57 aims to make sure taxpayers have more access to the public documents they own. Tuesday, it went before a committee.

Currently, if you as a taxpayer ask the state or local government for public information, they have to respond in a reasonable amount of time. But what is that? It could mean a month, or even several months, depending upon who you ask.

And government agencies could charge you a lot of money for that information.

Essentially, the pending legislation would change the state’s open records laws. It would require local governments to respond to records requests within 14 days.

Supporters say it would improve transparency. But there are some groups against the measure that says it would put a burden on small towns that do not have the manpower to find that information.

There are also fears companies will come in from out of state and ask for a lot of documents that burden local groups.

Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, sponsored the bill. He said he plans to have future discussions about it and said there could be a vote within two weeks.

This is the second time the Senate committee put off a vote on the bill in the 2020 legislative session.

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