Open Records Request Sets Off Emergency Legislation In The ND House
This legislative session the State of North Dakota has made large strides in the areas of transparency. The state has created an online video system through which floor debates in the state House and Senate are streamed and archived, and they’ve created a bill tracking system through which anyone can long in, look up bills and create lists to track the ones they like.
I’ve already been using this system extensively, and while using it I noticed that there was an area where users could type in comments. Now, North Dakota’s open records laws are very broad and very strong, so I wondered if the comments users were typing into the system were accessible via an open records request.
So on Monday at 5:18pm I emailed an open records request to legislative council requesting an electronic copy of all comments made to date...
As of the writing of this post I haven’t yet received a response to my request, but floor debate in the House today is all the answer I need as to why. House Majority Leader Al Carlson has rushed “emergency” legislation to the floor, bypassing completely the committee process, aimed at protecting comments in the legislative tracking system from open records request. Carlson says Legislative Council is confident the comments are already protected, but if they were so certain in that why the rush?