Editorial Roundup: Alabama

Cullman Times. May 11, 2024.

Editorial: Alabama Open Records Act gets timely support

The Alabama Broadcasters Association and the Alabama Press Association applaud Sen. Arthur Orr from Decatur and Rep. Cynthia Almond from Tuscaloosa for sponsoring SB270, the bill that creates timelines in Alabama’s Open Records Act.

We are grateful to Gov. Kay Ivey and her staff who were committed to working with all parties throughout the legislative process to reach a compromise that does not unduly burden the custodians of public records, and at the same time gives the public a timeframe to expect a response.

SB270 creates a framework for citizens when making requests for public records. There are currently no specific requirements for many public entities to even acknowledge a request. The public has a right to know what to expect when they make a public records request, rather than waiting for a response that may or may not come.

As with any legislation to change current law, there were concerns from stakeholders on the logistics of the new requirements. ABA and APA met with representatives from the counties, cities, school boards, universities, and others in addition to the governor’s staff to work through questions and find common ground for the good of the public.

ABA President Sharon Tinsley added the association’s gratitude for the state’s executive office, “The Alabama Broadcasters Association is very appreciative of the time and effort Governor Ivey and her staff committed to working on SB270 with stakeholders over many months in an effort to create timelines in the state’s Open Records Act.”

“Transparency is a cornerstone of our democracy, and making it easier for the public to access records is a positive step in that direction,” APA Executive Director Felicia Mason said. “We appreciate all of the parties that came to the table to make this happen.”