Amid concerns that state agencies may sometimes use high fees as a back-door way to deny open-records requests, a lawmaker is trying to force agencies to provide for free any documents whose release is deemed to be in the public interest.
Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, introduced HB122 on Thursday to change current law, which merely encourages agencies to provide documents for free. The proposal would require free records when their disclosure would be more in the public interest than personal interest.
That comes after Democrats last year had a long, high-profile fight with legislative leaders over release of 16,000 pages of documents dealing with redistricting. The party was originally told that would cost $5,000, then was charged $14,250 instead and the Legislature initially would not turn over two of three boxes of documents until all fees were paid.