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Copy Cost Boost for Public Records in the Works

Kirsten Adams/Cronkite News Service

Want a copy of some public records? It might soon cost you more than you think. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

In general, public agencies can charge only for the actual copies. The proposal being considered today by the House Committee on Technology and Infrastructure would allow cities, counties, school districts and any other level of government to charge an hourly fee to actually find and produce the documents. But, Rep. David Stevens said he’s not trying to burden individuals making simple requests. So the first four hours would be free. Beyond that, whoever wants the documents would pay the hourly wages of the workers involved.

“It allows anybody who wants records to get it. But the ones that take a long time, there’s a cost to get those records. And now the cities, town and counties and agencies are bearing that cost. Maybe it’s time to realize that the people requesting should bear some of it,” Stevens said.

The move is drawing fire from Dan Barr, attorney for the First Amendment coalition. He said there are ways to deal with those who abuse the public records law — ways he said do not involve throwing financial roadblocks in the way of everyone else who may have a complex request.

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