Cat Reid. 2023. Shading Sunshine: The Proliferation of Exemptions to State Open Records Laws. Duke Law Journal, Volume 73, Number 2. November 2023.


State and local open records laws play a vital role in our democracy. They shed light on the darkest places, exposing corruption and holding the powerful accountable. Yet lawmakers are continually chipping
away at the public’s right to know by limiting the information available under open records laws. Exemptions have been passed to bolster special interests, in response to investigative journalism, and to shield
lawmakers. This Note examines the proliferation of exemptions and proposes a three-pronged solution that combines statutory improvements from federal FOIA and Florida’s open records law with a call for greater public engagement on the importance of access to information

The three legislative fixes proposed here:

Proposed Exemptions Must Cite to the Open Records Law
New Exemptions Must be Standalone Bills
Sunset Provisions

Another area of mention from Reid was around public engagement:

Public Engagement
As the growing number of exemptions in Florida reveals, however, statutory reforms will not be enough to curb this dangerous trend. They will certainly make it easier for journalists and open records advocates to track new exemptions and to publicize lawmakers’ efforts to close records. But at a certain point, constituents must galvanize around this issue. The importance of this part of the solution is something I, a former journalist, have witnessed firsthand.

Read the full paper: