The Handbook on Indiana’s Public Access Laws soon will be reprinted and available free to HSPA newspapers.
The must-have resource for reporters and editors will grow to 64 pages to include information of key recent opinions of the state’s public access counselor and Indiana court decisions.
Changes made in the Open Door Law and Access to Public Records Act by the 2012 General Assembly also will be reflected in the new edition, which should be available by the end of summer.
The updated handbook is made possible in part through a grant from the HSPA Foundation.
The Foundation will keep 1,000 booklets to distribute to member newspapers and at various seminars and presentations.
The offices of the Indiana public access counselor, Indiana attorney general and Indiana Coalition for Open Government will pay to have additional copies printed for their distribution.
The biggest change in the access laws is the addition of a civil fine that can be levied by a judge who determines that an official deliberately violated the state’s access laws.
A public official or employee can be required to pay a fine of up to $100 for a first offense and up to $500 if he or she is a repeat offender.
The violator must pay the fine, not the public agency.
When HSPA Foundation receives the booklets, member newspapers will be able to request copies at no charge.
HSPA Executive Director and General Counsel Steve Key assisted in editing the handbook.
“It’s important that editors and reporters understand the state’s public access laws to prevent government agencies from hiding information that Hoosiers need to make intelligent decisions about who they want to represent them in state and local government,” Key said.