Where the Sun Doesn’t Shine: Indiana and its Antiquated Sunshine Laws?

Rich Jackson of the Post-Tribune, writes a post this morning about how Indiana’s sunshine laws are behind the times. Maybe that has more to do with Rich’s personal interest than reality. The Indiana Access to Public Records Act (“IAPRA”) and the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) both apply to public records. In any given area, the stricter of the acts controls. Although there are many exceptions to the general rule that all “public records” must be disclosed upon request, the overall effect accomplishes what the law originally intended to accomplish.

And now…the rest of the story. What is the cost? Public agencies funded by tax dollars are forced to pick up the cost of public disclosure. While I think that public disclosure is in itself a good thing, is it possible that the cost gets to a point where it exceeds the value of the service?

It is too bad that we don’t have an ideal government where we get public records and we get them at no cost. Unfortunately, however, we live in the real world, where bureaucracy is a necessary evil. In my opinion, an evil that needs to be minimized. Just don’t take a columnist’s word–someone whose bread and butter comes from public records–at face value.

What do you think, NWI?

  • C. Hedges

    I'm all in favor of expanding the Sunshine Laws.

    The internet makes looking at government documents inexpensive and easy. All governments — from local to federal — should post their non-classified or confidential documents online for all to review and see. This would take care of any copy charges and would allow people to be better served by those they hired to represent their interests.

    All government meetings — with a few exceptions for litigation and personnel matters — should be open for anyone who wants to attend. There's no need to have a closed door meeting. Open meetings are a cornerstone to a vibrant democracy.

    I say we need more Sunshine and scrutiny of government, instead of less. It's in everybody interest to make sure that the government is doing what it should be doing. Open meetings and documents accomplish this with little cost to the government, but with much gain for citizens and taxpayers.