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Why Not Access Public Records Electronically? 

  The Louisiana Joint House and Senate Governmental Affairs Committee will meet Wednesday, Nov. 17, at 9 a.m. in Baton Rouge to begin preparing a legislative study on the electronic delivery of public records requests. The meeting will be in House Committee Room 5.

  During the 2010 legislative session, Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, introduced HB 672 to provide for electronic delivery of public record requests. The bill failed to pass, but Leger convinced his colleagues to pass a related study resolution as a run-up to the 2011 session.

  "State and local agencies that are the custodians of public records often use the cost of producing hard copies of such records to discourage individuals, small news organizations and groups from requesting public records," says David Marcello, executive director of the Public Law Center at Tulane Law School. Marcello is a longtime advocate for open government and once served as executive counsel to former Mayor Dutch Morial. "Many of these records already exist in electronic form and could be produced more quickly and at less cost in that electronic format. Testimony taken on Nov. 17 will play an important role in pushing the legislative study toward a good outcome in supporting legislation that would get this job done in 2011."

  Marcello adds that he hopes as many open-government advocates as possible will turn out and make themselves heard at the joint committee meeting. "Another good alternative would be to submit a written statement, which will be maintained in the study committee's files as another voice in support of electronic delivery," Marcello says. — Clancy DuBos


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