State committee to review open records law

ATLANTA — The state House Judiciary Committee is set to discuss proposed changes to the Georgia’s open records and meetings laws, Attorney General Sam Olens said this morning.

The committee will be meeting Aug. 30 to discuss House Bill 397, which was introduced late in this year’s legislative session. The committee will meet at the end of a special session to draw new Congressional district maps as part of this year’s redistricting process.

According to Olens, who made his remarks during an Atlanta Press Club panel discussion, the proposed bill would include stiffer penalties for people who violate the law. However, the Georgia General Assembly would still be exempt from the open records law.

“My job is to get 397 passed,” Olens said in response to audience questions about why the bill wasn’t stronger in certain areas. “I’m not putting myself out there for failure.”

A number of audience members also asked Olens whether he would support creating administrative panels that would hear complaints about violations of the law. Texas and Connecticut have such panels in place, supporters say, and Olens said he wasn’t opposed to creating similar panels in Georgia.

“It’s an excellent idea,” Olens told the crowd, noting that whether it would pass is the issue.

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