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Senator fights to make public records more accessible
Senator Bill Avery wants to make public records more easily accessible to citizens. He plans to do that with LB 363, a bill that would limit the fees public agencies charge taxpayers.
It would prevent local agencies from over charging taxpayers.
Senator Avery says public agencies are taking advantage of citizens by charging them large fees.
"That's what public records, laws are all about - the ability of citizens to hold their elected officials accountable," said Avery.
LB 363, a bill introduced by Senator Bill Avery is intended to crack down on public agencies that overcharge people seeking public information.
In a public hearing Monday, Senator Scott Price addressed an unusual incident in Bellevue.
"He was required to put over a 600 dollar deposit to get eventually what amounted to 14 pieces of paper," said Price.
The Hastings Police Department charges $5 for an incident report.
Right now Nebraska law allows government agencies like the Hastings Police Department to charge for actually making the copies, but it also allows them to charge for staff time.
Under LB 363, public agencies would no longer be able to charge during the first six hours of fulfilling a copy request.
After the six hours service can be applied for employees' time only.
"The thing that we would worry about the most is the fishing expeditions, the serial records, somebody doing a study or something where it would just take copious amount of time," said Hastings Police Chief Pete Kortum.
Police Chief Kortum says very rarely does the county receive large requests that take hours to complete. Others argue the bill would strain smaller counties with limited staff.
"Places like Omaha and Lincoln unless there's a way to economically give them out they may have to hire more personnel, it's a budget constraint, for us there's only me," said Hastings Police Department Secretary Opal Johnson.
Several senators spoke on the bill Monday. Many were spilt on the issue so it'll be interesting to see how they vote.
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