Marilyn Odendahl. 2024-03-16. The Indiana Citizen.

Every year, Gerry Lanosga, director of journalism at The Media School at Indiana University – Bloomington, cautions his students, “The legislature is in session. Hold on to your access.”

The Indiana General Assembly has lengthened the list of exemptions to the state’s public access laws in the past, but Lanosga sees an amendment dropped into a bill less than two weeks before the 2024 session ended as potentially wrenching the Open Door Law and the Public Records Act from the strongest of grips.


The Indiana Coalition for Open Government is calling on Holcomb to veto HB 1338. In a statement, the group’s president, Zachary Baiel, said the amendment “introduces potential for political pressure and retribution, undermining the (public access counselor’s) role as an impartial arbiter of public access disputes in the State of Indiana.”

Luke Britt, Indiana’s current public access counselor, declined to comment. Freeman and Prescott did not respond to requests for comment.


Increased restrictions on public access that Lanosga fears is already happening in Kentucky.  

The Bluegrass State’s legislature is working on House Bill 509, which would narrow the scope of their open records law, according to the Kentucky Open Government Coalition. In particular, only records contained on an agency device or email account will be considered a public record, which, the coalition believes, will drive Kentucky public officials to use their personal devices and email accounts to conduct government business.


While Freeman dismissed the incident as “two people having lunch,” Lanosga agreed with the public access counselor’s assessment, saying two board members sitting and talking with their attorney “doesn’t seem to me like a casual cup of coffee.”

Lanosga also noted the irony of the situation. Although the public access counselor had found the library board members had violated the law, he does not, under current Indiana law, have the ability to impose a sanction or fine. 

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