Arizona’s public records laws are some of the best in the country for open and transparent government. SB 1282 dilutes those laws, and hinders the public’s ability to access public records to which they are entitled.
Unfortunately, this bill is headed to the House floor for a vote. It should be stopped.
SB1282 allows the government to deny the public access to records they deem “unduly burdensome or harassing.” This is overly broad and gives all the discretion to the government. Nothing in this bill stops a records custodian from using this definition to justify a denial of any public records for any reason at all including work flow issues or other factors. The only recourse for a citizen who may disagree with the burdensome or harassing claim is to take to the courts. This of course puts a huge burden on the citizen and is yet another obstruction to their right to the access of public records.
SB1282 is unnecessary. The law already allows for the government grounds to deny disclosure of public records in three areas:
- The record is confidential by statute
- The record involves the privacy interest of persons
- Disclosure would be detrimental to the “best interests of the State”
This last standard has been tested by the courts – in some cases requests that are overly harassing or burdensome have been denied on the grounds that it is in the best interest of the state to do so. It does require the government to show some harm to their agency in order to invoke it, which is proper.
In sum, this bill is anti-transparency, anti-open government, and unnecessary. We urge you to contact your legislators and let them know they should VOTE NO on SB1282.