MONTGOMERY – Governor Kay Ivey on Wednesday signed a bill to set specific timelines that public entities in Alabama must follow when responding to public records requests.

The bill was sponsored by State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) and State Rep. Cynthia Almond (R-Tuscaloosa). 

Ivey said the bill is the most significant amendment to Alabama's public records law in over 50 years.

Upon beginning her second term as governor in 2023, Ivey issued Executive Order 734, "Promoting Transparency in State Government Through Enhanced Accessibility to Public Records," to deliver on her commitment to strengthening public confidence in state government.

 "Today, we build on the foundation laid by Executive Order 734 to ensure the principle of transparency endures beyond the Ivey Administration. Transparency isn't just a buzzword — it's a commitment to letting the sunlight in and ensuring our citizens can hold their government accountable," Ivey said in a statement. "Like EO 734, this law protects government against overly burdensome requests while meaningfully improving fairness, access and the people's right to timely insight into how their government works."

Under the bill, a government or university employee must acknowledge a standard request within 10 business days of receiving it.

The public officer shall provide a substantive response fulfilling or denying a standard request within 15 business days of acknowledging receipt.

The public officer may extend this period in 15-business-day increments upon written notice to the requester.

"The Alabama Press Association would like to thank Governor Ivey and her staff for working with us over the past several months on SB270, a bill that creates timelines in our Open Records Act," Felicia Mason, Alabama Press Association executive director, said. "Any citizen has the right to receive an acknowledgment and a timely response when making a request for a public record. The Governor's Office played an integral role in getting a good compromise between interested parties. We appreciate Governor Ivey's continued dedication to transparency in government."

Previous studies have ranked Alabama's current laws on public records requests as some of the worst in the country.

 "The Alabama Broadcasters Association (ABA) is very appreciative of the time and effort Governor Ivey and her staff committed to working on SB270 with stakeholders over many months in an effort to create timelines in the state's Open Records Act," Sharon Tinsley, Alabama Broadcasters Association President, said. "In 2023, the ABA recognized Governor Ivey with an award for her Executive Order addressing public records. Now, with her signature, the governor is assuring Alabamians the right to a timely response when making a request. We applaud her continued efforts to see improvements in our open records law in Alabama."

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