MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — A bill aiming to improve the public records request process in Alabama passed committee Wednesday.
Currently, there is no timeline in law outlining how long an agency has to respond to a request — only that it be in a “reasonable” timeframe.
This bill sets up a series of deadlines. Once a request is made, an agency has 10 days to acknowledge it received it.
Then, it has 20 days to give an update on the status of the request and how long it might take to fulfill. The agency can also deny the request or ask for more information at this point. After that, it has 45 days to produce the record, with an extra 15 days if the record contains sensitive information or something that might need redacting.
“Communication is really the key here, and specific firm deadlines is really the other key here,” Rep. Cynthia Almond (R-Tuscaloosa) said. “I feel like we’ve tried to put responsibility both on the requestor and the public records officer.”
The bill previously passed the Senate and now heads to the full House.