A bill that would have allowed public officials to deny citizens who come into a government office copies of public records if those records could have been downloaded online did not get a vote at the end of its House committee hearing.
An upset Rep. Scott Reske, D-Pendleton, called the bill un-American.
Reps. Bill Friend, R-Macy, and Mike Karickhoff, R-Kokomo, authored H.B. 1304.
Friend’s intent was to encourage citizens to use the Internet to obtain public records, freeing up public employees to deal with other duties during a time when many government offices are cutting back on staffing.
HSPA testified against the bill. Stephen Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, called it a “pro-grumpy public servant” bill, giving public employees a tool to turn away citizens seeking public records.
He said it was contrary to the intent of the General Assembly that providing information is an essential function of public employees’ jobs as articulated in the Access to Public Records Act.
Brian Burdick, representing county recorders, and Jason Lunderman, representing the city of Fort Wayne, testified in favor of the legislation.
Friend acknowledged that the bill’s synopsis carried a negative message that he didn’t intend. Reps. Mara Candalaria Reardon, D-Hammond, and Mary Ann Sullivan, D-Indianapolis, also questioned the bill’s approach.
Friend and Rep. Phil Hinkle, R-Indianapolis, who chairs the House Committee on Government and Regulatory Reform, agreed to withhold the bill from a vote after testimony was completed. HSPA doesn’t expect the bill to return without significant changes.
FOP bill amended
HSPA and the attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police reached an agreement on language in H.B. 1068 designed to protect the families of police officers and firefighters just prior to its hearing in the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and Public Safety.
The bill introduced by Hinkle would have required the redaction from all public records residential addresses, telephone numbers and
e-mail addresses of the police officers and firefighters.
The bill also would have made a Class D felony the act of posting an emergency worker’s home address on the Internet with the intent to put the officer, firefighter or his or her family’s safety at risk. The committee hearing was conducted the day Indianapolis police officer David Moore died from gunshot wounds suffered during a traffic stop.
Leo Blackwell of the FOP and HSPA’s Key agreed that the confidentiality language was overly broad agreed on language to limit the exception to the records of the government unit employing the police officer or firefighter.
Jodie Woods of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns also signed off on the compromise. Hinkle agreed to amend the bill as requested by the FOP and HSPA.
The House committee chaired by Rep. Bruce Borders, R-Jasonville, is expected to approve H.B. 1068 this week.