Update: Amendments to Open Records Laws Fail to Reach Final Senate Vote

New Jersey lawyerA final vote was scheduled before the New Jersey Senate on two bills that would have amended the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) and the Open Public Records Act (OPRA).  Prior to the vote the bills’ sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck, reached out to the New Jersey League of Municipalities to discuss additional amendments. Further changes to the bills are expected before the Senate reconsiders them in February.

As we previously discussed on this New Jersey public law blog, the amended laws would create greater transparency, account for changes in the way government agencies maintain public records and also address modern means of communication. For example, one provision would extend public record obligations to quasi-governmental organizations engaged in service to the public, such as the New Jersey League of Municipalities and the New Jersey School Boards Association.  Another proposal would allow residents to send records requests via email and bar officials from texting privately during public meetings.

While most agree with the need for greater transparency, the bills faced significant opposition from New Jersey municipalities. Citing the cost and administrative burden of compliance, at least 120 towns and county governments have reportedly passed resolutions opposing the changes to OPMA and OPRA.

For more information about how the proposed changes may impact your municipality’s operations, we encourage you to contact a member of Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Public Law Group.

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