Many state legislatures exempt themselves from record laws
Mar. 13, 2016
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — State capitols are often referred to as "the people's house," but legislatures frequently put up no-trespassing signs by exempting themselves from public-records laws.
That tendency was apparent when The Associated Press sought emails and daily schedules of legislative leaders in all 50 states. The request was met with more denials than approvals.
Some lawmakers claimed "legislative immunity" from the public-records laws that apply to most state and local officials. Others said secrecy was essential to the deliberative process of making laws.
And some feared that releasing the records could invade the privacy of citizens, creating a "chilling effect" on the right of people to petition their government.
Without access to such records, it's harder for the public to know who is trying to influence their lawmakers on important policy decisions.