Frequently Asked Questions
1. Q: Is there a form that a person requesting access to public records must use to make requests?
A: No. There are no required forms. However, an agency may ask a person requesting copies of public records to complete a form prepared by the agency.
2. Q: What fees can an agency charge to provide copies of public records?
A: Municipal agencies may charge a maximum of fifty cents per page and state agencies may charge a maximum of twenty-five cents per page. Other fees may be charged for certified copies of public records or for transcriptions, printouts or records on electronic media.
3. Q: How quickly must an agency provide access to, or copies of, public records?
A: An agency is required to provide "prompt" access to public records. Promptness is a standard determined by consideration of a number of factors such as: how busy the agency is at the time of the request, how time-consuming it will be to comply with the request and the urgency of need for the information contained in the records.
4. Q: How long does an agency have to prepare minutes after a meeting has occurred?
A: Regular and special meeting minutes are required to be available to the public within seven days (excluding weekends and holidays for special meetings) of the meeting to which they refer. Minutes of emergency special meetings must be available within seventy-two hours (excluding weekends and holidays) of the meeting to which they refer. The record of votes must be available within forty-eight hours of the meeting to which they refer.
5. Q: Do members of the public have a right under the Freedom of Information Act to speak at public meetings?
A: No. The Freedom of Information Act gives the public the right to attend the meetings of public agencies and to view meetings while they are taking place. Any additional rights concerning participation by members of the public at public meetings are not part of the Freedom of Information Act.
6. Q: Can an agency vote to consider business that was not listed on its meeting agenda?
A: At a regular meeting, a public agency can vote to consider a matter not listed on its agenda if the agency obtains a favorable 2/3 vote of those members of the agency who are present and voting at the meeting. At a special meeting, an agency may not consider a matter not listed on its notice of special meeting.
7. Q: If a person believes that a violation of the Freedom of Information Act has occurred, how long does he or she have to file a complaint with the Commission?
A: Generally, a complaint must be filed within thirty days of an alleged violation of the Freedom of Information Act. In the case of an alleged secret or unnoticed meeting, however, a complaint must be filed within thirty days from the time the person knew or could have known that such a meeting occurred.
8. Q: Is there a form that a person wishing to file a complaint with the Freedom of Information Commission must complete?
A: No. There are no required forms. A person must write a letter to the Commission alleging that a violation of the Freedom of Information Act has occurred and include all of the information needed to docket the matter as a complaint, including: the name, address and telephone number of both the person filing the complaint and the agency involved and the date the alleged violation occurred.
9. Q: Do persons who file complaints with the Commission need to be represented by an attorney?
A: No. Staff counsel from the Freedom of Information Commission will help parties with procedural questions, but will not represent you. The decision whether to be represented by counsel is entirely up to the party appearing before the Commission.
10. Q: I’m unable to find the information I need, will the Commission be able to tell me where to find it, or get the information for me?
A: No. The Commission is not a repository for information. The Commission is a quasi-judicial agency where you may file a complaint if a public agency has denied you access to public records or public meetings. (See also “About Us” on Homepage.)
11. Q: Does the Commission act on tips?
A: No. In order for the Commission to act, a written complaint must be filed with the Commission against a public agency alleging a denial of access to public records or public meetings. (See also Questions 7 and 8, above.)