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Court Of Appeals: Open Records Act Doesn’t Apply To State Lawmakers

The Institute for Justice brought a suit over access to records from the 2012 session of the General Assembly, dealing with the passage of a bill about licensing music therapy.
The Institute for Justice brought a suit over access to records from the 2012 session of the General Assembly, dealing with the passage of a bill about licensing music therapy.
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A group arguing that Georgia’s Open Records Act should apply to state lawmakers plans to appeal a recent ruling.

The Institute for Justice brought the suit over access to records from the 2012 session of the General Assembly, dealing with the passage of a bill about licensing music therapy.

But the Court of Appeals on July 2 agreed with a lower court’s ruling that because the state legislature is not specifically named in the Open Records Act, it should not have to comply.

“The open records act says by its own terms that it should be construed broadly in favor of more access to information rather than less,” Kirby Thomas West, an attorney representing the Institute, said. “And there’s no reason here for the General Assembly to say now that it can exempt itself from the Open Records Act.”

The ruling by the Court of Appeals, however, noted that if the state legislature wanted to include itself “in the set of departments, agencies or offices subject to the Act, it could have done so expressly.”

West said she hopes the Georgia Supreme Court comes to a different conclusion.

“The purpose of the Open Records Act [is] to ensure that the public has access to information about how the government governs,” she said.