Rep Newberry Submits Legislation to Reform the

Access to Public Records Act (APRA)

 

 

State House, Providence – In response to inconsistent and less than timely responses for public information from the State of Rhode Island, House Representative Brian C. Newberry submitted legislation to update and reform the Access to Public Records Act (APRA). The legislation will:

- Centralize all APRA records request handling and management, compliance, training, and agency education, for agencies which report to the Governor and all quasi-public agencies, within the Department of Administration; 

- Encourage DOA to make all reasonable efforts to post records which would be public under APRA in an online, searchable database and/or website, to prevent those records from having to be requested in the first place; 

- Require all records that are not emails, text messages, police reports, or police body worn camera footage, to be provided at no cost to the records requester, unless DOA determines a cost is required to fulfill the request; the requester can appeal the cost estimate to the Attorney General's office, and this shall follow the appeal procedures currently laid out in the APRA law. There will be a presumption that any request cost in excess of $500 shall be deemed excessive unless the agency can demonstrate an actual cost of that amount;  

- Notwithstanding the foregoing, all records are to be provided electronically, to the extent possible, and at no cost, other than the cost of labor, unless the requester specifically requests paper copies of records. Further, DOA shall make all efforts to use the resources available to it in existing budgetary authority, including public information officers and other communications personnel at state agencies, to fulfill records requests at no additional labor cost to requesters;

- DOA will provide a uniform set of fees to be applied across all state agencies and quasi-public agencies for fulfilling APRA requests. 

Rhode Island’s APRA law is old and fundamentally flawed in that it places the burden of compliance on any public entity regardless of its size and capabilities, said Representative Newberry. “Hawaii decided to consolidate APRA request assistance, training, education and compliance into one state agency to improve public access, while reducing duplications and inefficiencies. We look to emulate that model and bring Rhode Island into the 21st century by creating a searchable information portal for all state government documents that apply to APRA, standardizing and eliminating fees, and abolishing inefficient practices.”

 

 

A person is being questioned in connection to the death of a University of Georgia student. A UGA spokesperson said the person is currently with police. Nursing student Laken Hope Riley left for a morning run Thursday and concerned friends called police when she never returned. Officers found the 22-year-old's body in a forested area behind the school with "visible injuries."        More U.S. sanctions are being placed on Russia in response to the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. President Biden announced more than 500 sanctions targeting individuals connected to Navalny's imprisonment and death. The sanctions come one day before the two-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.       Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is vowing to stay in the presidential race regardless of the outcome of tomorrow's GOP primary in her home state. Haley trails former President Trump by as much as 35 points in polls of South Carolina GOP voters. Polls are open tomorrow from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. Eastern time.       Two National Guardsmen are dead after a military helicopter crash in Mississippi today. The helicopter was on a routine training flight and crashed in Booneville Friday afternoon. That's near the Alabama border. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves confirmed the tragedy.        The trial for the weapons handler in the "Rust" movie shooting will continue today in New Mexico. Hannah Gutierrez, who is accused of bringing live ammunition to the movie set, has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering. Prosecutors claim Gutierrez is largely responsible for the accidental shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film in October of 2021.       A software company could become the third U.S. business to reach a value of two-trillion-dollars. If Nvidia [[ en-VID-ee-uh ]] reaches that mark by the end of today's market close, it would shatter the record for the fewest number of trading days to earn its second trillion. That means Nvidia will have accomplished the feat in 175 trading days, compared to 516 trading days for Apple and 543 trading days for Microsoft.       A former "Desperate Housewife" is joining the cast of "Only Murders in the Building." Variety reports Eva Longoria will have a recurring role in season four of the series, although there's no word about her character and storyline. Longoria is the second new cast member announced, joining Saturday Night Live alum Molly Shannon.