Access to public records was a problem in the bridge shutdown. Will that help reforms pass?

Could interest in what happened to the Washington Bridge be a catalyst for changes to state open-records law that make it easier for the public to find out what state and local governments are doing?

This article originally appeared in the Providence Journal on February 9, 2024 and was written by Patrick Anderson.  

Public-records law jumped into the news last week when the state Department of Transportation charged some media organizations for emails documenting how structural problems with the Washington Bridge were discovered in December.

“It’s a perfect example of something that is in the public interest,” John Marion Jr., executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island, said Thursday about the Washington Bridge emails.

The bill would allow someone to request that search charges be waived directly to the agency with the records instead of having to go to Superior Court.

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