Expected legislative activity in 2013

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Three bills being drafted for the 2013 Indiana General Assembly will have HSPA fingerprints on them.

Speaker of the House Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, asked HSPA for input on legislation to address the burden on government units when voluminous records requests are made.

An HSPA search of other states’ public access laws found that 27 allow for some type of search fees.

Steve Key, executive director and general counsel for HSPA, developed a set of principles for allowing a search fee. Key sought input on the parameters from the HSPA Board of Directors’ Freedom of Information Committee, chaired by Bill Nangle, executive editor at The Times (Munster).

To prevent a search fee from becoming a barrier to public access, HSPA suggested the legislation contain:

• A threshold before a search fee could be imposed. The federal Freedom of Information Act threshold is two hours of search time.

• No charge should include attorney fees or redaction time.

• A limit on the hourly rate that can be charged to process voluminous requests.

HSPA has asked Bosma to include a provision in the legislation to assist citizens making records requests.

The provision would allow the citizen making the request, not a government agency, to determine whether a copy of an electronic document should be provided in electronic or print format.

Current law gives that control to the government.

Economic development corporations

The second bill including HSPA input concerns access to records of economic development corporations that receive taxpayer dollars.

Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, will author the bill.

HSPA suggested the bill look at the threshold where the state Board of Accounts can waive the requirement of an audit of how taxpayer funds are spent by the economic development corporation.

If the entity is subject to audit, then it should be subject to the state’s public access laws.

HSPA also suggested the requirement of a report detailing an entity’s activity.

The report could include:

• Number of companies the economic development corporation contacted.

• Number of economic development-related events the corporation participated in.

• Number of entities that received incentive-package offers.

• Details on incentive packages accepted by industrial or commercial prospects to relocate or stay in the county, including dollar amount and purpose of the expenditure.

For entities that accepted an incentive package:

• The name and address of the recipient.

• Representations made by the entity in exchange for the incentive package, including years it will stay in county, new hires promised and internal investments in the property.

Out-of-state insurance companies

The third bill that may contain HSPA-suggested changes is one Rep. Matt Lehman, R-Berne, will file on behalf of the Indiana Department of Insurance.

The provision of interest for HSPA is the requirement that out-of-state insurance companies publish a statement of condition in Indiana newspapers.

Papers are limited to a $40 charge for the publication.

HSPA believes that cap hasn’t been increased since the provision was passed by the legislature in the mid-1930s and would like to see that number increased.