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Turner Bill to Amend Open Public Records Act Advances


TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner that would exempt certain personal information from the open public records law, and would bar entitlement to attorney fees in certain litigation related to the law passed the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism, and Historic Preservation Committee today.

“Commercial companies are using access to public records to carry out their marketing campaigns, by requesting records to get addresses of individuals and then send them unsolicited promotional materials,” said Senator Turner (D-Hunterdon/Mercer). “Not only is this wasteful, and an annoyance to residents, but it also violates their expectation of privacy.”

The bill, S-1232, would exempt personal identifying information in any personal government record from being disclosed under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA). Personal government records would be defined as any records related to a pet license or registration, or a home alarm system permit, license, or registration. This would protect the name, address, phone number, and email address of applicants.

Under the bill, if someone is denied access to a personal government record, and the court finds they are entitled to see the document, the individual who requested the record would not be entitled to compensation for their legal fees, so long as the decision to deny access was reasonable and in good faith.

The bill advanced from committee with a 5-0 vote and next heads to the full Senate for further consideration.