Access Bills to Watch this Legislative Session

Access advocates should be aware of a number of bills making their way through the latest session of the Indiana General Assembly. They include:

H.B. 1129 and S.B. 103
Both bills would eliminate the “serial meetings” loophole that allows government bodies to get around the open meetings law by meeting in small groups that don’t constitute a quorum. Rep. Russ Stilwell, D-Boonville, is author of the House bill, which already passed out of committee and passed the full House by a vote of 89-7. Sen. Beverly Gard, R-Greenfield, is author of the Senate bill. The biggest difference between the two bills is that the Senate bill includes language concerning long-distance participation in meetings; members of a governing body could participate via electronic means but could not participate in final actions or be counted as present for purposes of a quorum.

S.B. 142
Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, is author of bill that establishes a 10-cent copying fee for local government. The current language would also apply to faxes, which HSPA is questioning.

H.B. 1427
Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, authored this bill that would protect the identities of undercover police officers from public disclosure. A House committee declined to consider an amendment to require law enforcement agencies to acknowledge the existence of such officers and their compensation.

H.B. 1546
Rep. Larry Buell, R-Indianapolis, is the author. The bill would close access to military discharge papers filed with county recorders.

S.B. 245
Sen. Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond, has introduced this bill, which would allow citizens to request and receive notice of public meetings. Current law allows media organizations to get these notices mailed to them, but there is no such provision for citizens.

S.B. 306
Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Monticello, is the author of this bill. It would include more arrest information in “limited criminal history” reports. These are individuals’ criminal history reports that police agencies make available to the public under certain limited circumstances.

H.B. 1445
Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Lizton, introduced this bill that would increase the information available to the public regarding taxpayer money going into public retirement fund accounts.

This report was compiled by Steve Key, an ICOG board member and general counsel for the Hoosier State Press Association.