Recently, Secretary of State Dennis Richardson proposed creating a "sunshine committee" to review exemptions to Oregon's public records laws. This proposed new committee would research existing exemptions and make recommendations to state lawmakers about which exemptions should be amended or removed from Oregon statutes.
While I applaud the intent behind the Secretary's proposal, I question the necessity of creating a new committee, with the associated costs to taxpayers, to tackle this issue.
If we are to be serious about public records reform, we must look critically at the exemptions public bodies are currently claiming when responding to requests for these records. That is why the Department of Justice has already created a list of the exemptions. This is also why the Senate Committee on General Government and Accountability, which I chair, is already reviewing these exemptions for possible revision or deletion.
Rather than creating a new committee, I would highly recommend that interested parties come to the Senate General Government and Accountability Committee meetings about this issue. When they do, I believe they will find that the sun is already shining a ray of light on public records law exemptions in Oregon.
Sen. Chuck Riley (D-Hillsboro) chairs the General Government and Accountability Committee in the Oregon Senate.