Boots & Sabers

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1356, 27 Jul 15

Attorney General Looks to Revamp Open Records Laws

Good. As long as it is done with the purpose of enabling more transparency, I’m all for it.

Attorney General Brad Schimel is starting the substantial task of updating the state’s open records law at a time when voices of outrage are still reverberating in the Capitol’s halls over a recent unsuccessful attempt by leading lawmakers to significantly diminish public scrutiny.

“This is a big beast,” said Schimel of the task, who has said since he was elected in November he wanted to update the state’s open records law for the first time since 1981 to, in part, better reflect government officials’ use of modern technology.

“I don’t believe you’ll find the word ‘electronic’ in (the records law) anywhere,” he said Friday.


1356, 27 July 2015


  1. John Foust

    Anywhere? I encourage him to read the statutes, as the AG’s office is holding a day-long seminar on the open records law on Wednesday. There’s still time to brush up.

    It’s right there in Wis. Stat. 19.32(2) “Definitions : “Record” means any material on which written, drawn, printed, spoken, visual, or electromagnetic information or electronically generated or stored data is recorded or preserved, regardless of physical form or characteristics, which has been created or is being kept by an authority. “Record” includes, but is not limited to, handwritten, typed or printed pages, maps, charts, photographs, films, recordings, tapes, optical disks, and any other medium on which electronically generated or stored data is recorded or preserved.”

    For records that are only in electronic form, Wis. Stat. 19.35(2) even says they need to provide you with a computer “comparable to those used by its employees” to inspect those records.

    Wis. Stat. 19.35(7) discusses records custodians for “local information technology”. Wis. Stat. 19.36(4) discusses computer programs and data.

    The 2010 Van Hollen edition of the Open Records Compliance Guide, as posted on AG Schimel’s DOJ home page, uses the word “electronic” at least 66 times.

    Of course, there are a number of opinions from the AG’s office that discuss electronic records, as well as relevant court cases, all described in the annotations of the Wisconsin Statutes, available online.

  2. Madrid Law

    @John, why should they read the statutes when they can just make it up as they go along? ;)

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