South Carolina Bill Would Make it Easier, Cheaper to Get Public Records

A bill sponsored by S.C. Rep. Bill Taylor, R-Aiken, would make it cheaper and faster for citizens to get copies of public documents using the state Freedom of Information Act, officials from the S.C. Press Association said.

The measure passed out of a House subcommittee Wednesday morning,

“We’ve heard from numerous people, and legislators have their own problems with this,” Taylor said. “This would bring some peace to the law. We are urging in the legislation that governments would be entitled to supply the information electronically when they can.”

Some government agencies throw up barriers to FOI requests, Taylor said, by trying to charge for staff time. The proposed measure would allow only a fee comparable to those charged commercially and no fee at all for electronic format.

Currently, there is no time limit for FOI compliance. Taylor’s bill would require that the requested materials be produced in no less than 30 days. However, Taylor said that a request for information going back more than two years would add another 45 days for an agency to fulfill the request.

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