Recognizing the need to bring greater transparency and consistency to the state's Access to Public Records Act (APRA), Attorney General Kilmartin today praised the General Assembly for passing S2652Aaa by Senator James C. Sheehan and H7555Aaa by Representative Michael J. Marcello, advancing, for the first time in more than a decade, the state's Access to Public Records Act.
The legislation, submitted in the Senate on behalf of the Attorney General, significantly alters the individually identifiable exemption of the current statute, makes more information public, provides that all public pension records are public records, provides greater protections for those requesting records, and increases fines for public bodies that knowingly and willfully violate the law.
"Democracy is built on the principle of transparent, open, and accessible government, and is the key to maintaining the public's trust of its elected officials," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "Government must be accountable to the people. The public has the right to know how government officials spend taxpayer dollars and make the decisions affecting their lives."
"I commend Senator Sheehan and Representative Marcello, as well as members of my staff, especially Assistant Attorney General Michael Field and Special Assistant Attorney General Joee Lindbeck, for working together to craft a responsible Act that makes government more responsive to the public and more transparent."
"Mark Twain, in the "Gilded Age: A Tale of Today" wrote, 'No country can be well governed unless its citizens as a body keep religiously before their minds that they are the guardians of the law and that the law officers are only the machinery for its execution, nothing more.' While Mark Twain penned that line close to 140 years ago, it still rings true today," concluded Kilmartin.
The Open Government Unit within the Office of Attorney General investigates complaints against public bodies in Rhode Island for violations of the Open Meetings Act and the Access to Public Records Act. The Office also hosts the annual "Open Government Summit," to educate and inform public officials, public employees and the public about OMA and APRA. This year's Summit is scheduled for Friday, July 27, 2012 at Roger Williams University School of Law. For more information and to register to attend the Summit, please visit www.riag.ri.gov.