Thursday, May 21, 2020

Brickbat: Trust Us

By Charles Oliver - May 21, 2020 at 04:00AM

Some agencies in New Jersey are refusing open records requests that would show how they are reacting to the coronavirus pandemic and how they are implementing a series of emergency orders by Gov. Phil Murphy, citing the state's 2005 Emergency Health Powers Act. That act says that "any correspondence, records, reports and medical information made, maintained, received or filed pursuant to this act shall not be considered a public or government record." State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, one of the law's sponsors, says that despite the language of the law she did not think it would be used to deny public access to records. Weinberg also sponsored a law that passed earlier this year that changed a requirement that state and local governments respond to an open records request in seven days. The new law, passed as part of a package of bills to address the pandemic, says governments must make a "reasonable effort" to meet that deadline or "as soon as possible thereafter."


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