Assemblyman Skip Daly wants interim study of Nevada’s public-records law
February 21, 2013
Assemblyman Skip Daly says he wants an interim study of Nevada’s public-records law.Daly, a Sparks Democrat, said there is too much confusion and too many issues to resolve during the regular session. The public and agency staffers are confused about how, exactly, to apply records laws when someone asks for something, he said.“Then they say, What do you want it for?” he said. “Well, it’s none of your business.”Existing exemptions should also be reviewed to see whether they are adequate or too restrictive to the public’s right to know, Daly said.“There are things that should be confidential, but we’ve got to review existing exemptions,” he said.The study might also involve creating a definition of “public.” The Nevada Press Association has joined the Attorney General’s Office in backing AB31, which they say will improve public access to government records and close some loopholes in the law.One major issue involves a ruling by the Nevada Supreme Court that imposed a “balancing test” on whether security or some other need for confidentiality outweighs the public’s right to know.Press Association Director Barry Smith said the media reads that opinion as giving a court the power to make that test, but that agencies have interpreted it as allowing agency officials to make the decision.“The law clearly says unless there’s an exception, it’s an open record,” he said.Assistant Attorney General Keith Munro said the balancing test has resulted in some agencies asking people seeking public records what they want the information for.“We shouldn’t have that,” he said.There also are other proposals in the Legislature that involve public access to records, including AB4, which would allow legal notices to be published online by local governments and allow those entities to charge the public for copies instead of having notices published in a general-circulation newspaper.