Would you pay $25 to $40 per hour to have an Open Record reproduced? You would in South Carolina; June 29 is effective date of 2021 legislation

Many of you expressed disdain during the 2021 General Assembly about House Bill 312 and language in it that would allow public agencies five days to respond to an Open Records request, an increase from three days that had been in the law since the outset in 1976.

The three-day mandate seemed sufficient time, most believed. And at three days, Kentucky was one of four states that allowed that few of days for an agency respond. There are some that allow five days; even more give agencies seven days and then it jumps to 10 to 14 days and some even higher. So Kentucky’s five-day time frame keeps it in the lower echelon of states on days an agency has to respond to an Open Records request.

With an extra interest, watching how Kentucky’s Open Records Law compares to some of the other states, I found this article in the South Carolina Press Association. Think you have it bad having to wait five days for a response to an Open Records request?

Then how about having to pay a substantial hourly fee to get a record like your counterparts in the Palmetto State?

Check this out and as you read think about Kentucky’s law in a comparable situation:

From South Carolina Press Association — After being sued at least twice in recent years for withholding public records, the University of South Carolina says it will now charge to gather, review and release public documents.

The charges are allowed under state law. Other local and state agencies already charge the public and the media for access to records.

The university will charge $25 per hour to search and retrieve records, unless the requested documents include emails or texts, in which case USC will charge $40 per hour. It will cost $20 per hour to redact records and $.10 per page to print the documents, according to USC’s website. The charges will not apply to records requests that have already been filed.

Kentucky’s law states: “The public agency may prescribe a reasonable fee for making copies of nonexempt public records requested for use for noncommercial purposes which shall not exceed the actual cost of reproduction, including the costs of the media and any mechanical processing cost incurred by the public agency, but not including the cost of staff required. If a public agency is asked to produce a record in a non-standardized format, or to tailor the format to meet the request of an individual or a group, the public agency may at its discretion provide the requested format and recover staff costs as well as any actual costs incurred.”

Opinion of the Attorney General on effective date of 2021 legislation

On March 30, 2021, the 2021 Regular Session of the General Assembly adjourned sine die. Thus, the effective date of legislation, other than general appropriation bills and acts containing emergency or delayed effective date provisions, passed during this session is Tuesday, June 29, 2021.


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