Open government is a cornerstone of democracy. It enables the public and the press to play a watchful role in curbing wasteful government spending and guarding against corruption and misconduct. It permits the people to be engaged in their governance. Indeed, openness is a prerequisite for trust, which has often been in short supply in Oregon and across the country. This is the core value of our public records and open meeting laws.
HB 2353 will allow district attorneys, the Attorney General, and judges to levy a fine (up to $200) against public bodies for undue delay in responding to public records requests. This will serve to deter noncompliance and provide some reimbursement to the public records requester for the time and energy needed to enforce this important law.
By keeping its actions open to scrutiny, government can show the public that it has nothing to hide, while helping to cast light on inappropriate or unlawful activity when it does occur. As explained by United States Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, "Sunlight... is the best of disinfectants."