Governor Signs Open Records Rewrite Into Law

A revision of the Georgia’s Open Records Act was signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal last week to strengthen the public’s access to records and documents.

The bill, known as House Bill 397, is the first major rewrite of Georgia’s sunshine laws in more than 10 years. The revisions increase fines for offenders with a maximum penalty of $1,000 and offenders who commit repeat violations within a year face fines of up to $2,500. The previous penalty was $500.

Before, the law only allowed criminal complaints to be filed against suspected violators. This means that the prosecutor needed to have proof beyond reasonable doubt. Now the rewrite allows for the filing of civil complaints.

The rewrite provides new exemptions for some gatherings of governing bodies. It also lowers the cost of documents disclosed under the Open Records Act from 25 cents to 10 cents.

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