A Senate committee approved a bill that would allow state and local government agencies to charge the public a substantial fee for lengthy public record searches.
Those searches are currently free.
Under the bill – which received unanimous support from the committee – if a public records request takes a government agency more than two hours to search for, the agency can charge up to $20 per hour.
The Hoosier State Press Association has previously resisted such legislation. But executive director Steve Key supports the bill, saying it will provide local governments with some relief.
“We don’t think it’s going to come into play very often as far as your average citizen because most citizens are not going to be making voluminous records requests,” Key says.
Only one person testified against the bill – Daniel Christian, representing the Indiana Land Title Association. That group’s members regularly make real estate title requests with local governments, and Christian says the bill would be incredibly costly.
“It doesn’t necessarily have to be a voluminous request to take up these people’s time. And yet it’s going to be our industry and the consumers – your constituents – are going to be the ones that are going to pay the price for this,” Christian says.
The bill’s author and sponsor say they’ll work to exempt Christian’s industry from the fees.