MONTPELIER-The Vermont State Employees Union has been awarded attorney's fees and related costs in a recent lawsuit against the State of Vermont regarding the state's efforts to charge a fee to view public records.
Superior Court Judge Crawford ruled on the lawsuit.
By Vermont law, "any written or recorded information, regardless of physical form or characteristics, which is produced or acquired in the course of public agency business" is a public record.
Some public records are exempt, in whole or in part, but they are still public records and must be managed in accordance with law. Proper public records management is key to access.
"As a staunch supporter of access to public records in government, I applaud the decision by Judge Crawford," Sec. of State Jim Condos (D) remarked. "At a time when our state is engaged in a vigorous discussion of ways to increase and encourage open government, including pending legislation H.73, I feel it is important to remove unnecessary barriers to public access of state business."
Condos said the legislature should remove the language from H.73 before passage that will change this provision and allow government to charge fees for inspection of records.
"Vermont needs a culture change in regards to access to public records," Condos said. "Free access to inspect public records was clearly intended by previous legislatures and should be maintained."