Says Appellate Decision on Cost of Copies in OPRA Requests is a Step Forward for Transparency
TRENTON – State Senator Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, issued the following statement today praising an Appellate Court decision that would require municipalities to only charge the actual cost of copies of public documents requested under the State’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA):
“This week’s Appellate Court ruling is a significant step forward in the quest for government transparency. It specifically addresses the practice by some public records custodians of charging exorbitant copy fees in order to shirk their responsibility of transparency and accountability to the public.
“The message that this ruling sends is clear – the public has a fundamental right to public records. Any attempt to thwart the public’s right to open government will not pass judicial or legislative muster.
“I’ve been working on a bill package – along with the late public records champion, Martin O’Shea, who was a plaintiff on one of the cases referenced in this court decision – to enhance the State’s OPRA law, and modernize the Open Public Meetings Act. These bills – S-1352 and S-1351, respectively – would address not only the lack of a standard copy rate for public documents under OPRA, but would also close down other loopholes in the law and anachronisms that stand in the way of the public’s ability to access government records and public meetings.
“I hope this week’s ruling creates some momentum for further government openness and accessibility. I will continue to push for the passage of my legislation, so that both the Open Public Records Act and the Open Public Meetings Act finally live up to their promise of government transparency for all New Jersey residents.”