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State agencies object to Nevada public records law proposal

April 4, 2019

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada government agencies are objecting to a proposal to beef up the state’s public records law, saying it would increase workloads and costs and leave their staff facing fines and penalties for failing to comply.

Members of the Senate Government Affairs Committee heard three hours of testimony Wednesday but did not take any action.

Media organizations, good government groups and civil rights organizations pushed for the changes, which would limit the fees agencies can charge to produce public records.

The proposal also would require that digital records be delivered in their original format instead of being printed out first, and require governments to work with requesters to narrow a broad, unmanageable request instead of denying it outright.

Opponents objected to changes allowing a court to impose fines of $100 a day for blocking access and penalties of up to $250,000 for failing to comply with the law.

The public records officer at each agency could also be individually held liable for fines and penalties for not complying.

The sponsor of the legislation, Las Vegas Democratic Sen. David Parks, said he believed some of the opponents misunderstood the reasoning behind the high fees, which are meant to encourage compliance with the law.

Supporters noted that when similar penalties were added to the state’s open meeting law, the state saw fewer violations of that law.

Parks told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he’s going to work with opponents and supporters to find common ground.

Legislative rules give lawmakers on the committee until next week to pass the bill and advance it to the Senate.

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Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com