Click here for a redline version of how the Inspection of Public Records Act will look if SB 52 and SB 369 are signed into law.
New Mexico’s 60-day legislative session ended March 19, and there is ample cause for celebration. FOG didn’t get everything we wanted (does anybody?) but two significant open-government bills DID pass, and a couple of proposals to restrict access did NOT pass. We’ll be back next year to keep pushing for open data and better notice for public meetings. (And once again, thanks to Rep. Joseph Cervantes and Rep. Jim Smith for their hard work on those important efforts.)
The following bills PASSED and are on the governor’s desk:
- Electronic Copies of Public Records (SB 52, Sen. Steve Fischmann) This bill solves a problem that many of you have encountered – agencies refusing to provide a document in electronic format, or trying to charge $1 per page to e-mail you a PDF. If the government has a public document in electronic format, they’ll be required to give it to you in that format, for no more than the actual cost of copying.
- (SIGNED! on 3/30) School Info on Sunshine Portal (SB 327, Sen. Sander Rue) This bill makes sure that the state’s largest budget line item, K-12 public education, will appear in detail on the Sunshine Portal. It will require all school districts to transmit certain financial information electronically to the state Public Education Department, which will then work with state IT staff to post the data on the Portal. The info has to be available online by October 1, 2012.
- Public Records Reorganization (SB 369, Sen. David Ulibarri/Rep. James Strickler) FOG was neutral on this bill, which makes one significant change and a number of cosmetic changes to the Inspection of Public Records Act. Before providing public records, agencies may redact the following information: Social Security numbers, the day and month of a date of birth, and all but the last four digits of any taxpayer ID number, financial account number or driver’s license number. This is similar to redaction guidelines adopted by the state courts, and FOG worked with the County Clerks’ Association to keep the exemption narrowly focused. Because the new exemption is explicitly discretionary, public agencies could continue providing the full date of birth and the last four digits of the Social Security number. FOG believes this strikes the proper balance between preventing identity theft and allowing users of public records to distinguish between individuals with the same name.
- Health-Care Rate Changes (SB 208, Sen. Dede Feldman) This is primarily a regulatory bill, but it contains a provision requiring additional public notice when health-insurance rate changes are brought before the Public Regulation Commission. Information about the rate change will be posted online in simplified language, and the superintendent of insurance must open a 30-day public comment period.
What does it all mean? Click here for a redline version of how the Inspection of Public Records Act will look if SB 52 and SB 369 are signed by the governor. If you have any questions or concerns about any legislation, please contact FOG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (888) 843-9121.