PROVIDENCE – Legislation that makes significant changes to the Access to Public Records Act – including making public various records that were not previously public, such as employment contracts – is now law. Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee signed the legislation, which takes effect Sept. 1.
Under previous law, all documents identifiable to an individual, subject to a few exceptions, were not public. The legislation will apply a balancing test by providing that all records of this nature would be public unless disclosure would constitute a “clearly unwarranted” invasion of personal privacy, a news release said. The amended law mirrors the Federal Freedom of Information Act.
The law will also:
• Require an arrest record be provided within 48 hours of a request (72 hours on weekends and holidays), together with basic information pertaining to the arrest of an adult. This provision applies to arrests made up to five days before a request for records.
• Make public various records that were not previously public, including municipal pension records that are not part of the Municipal Employees’ Retirement System, records of payments received by an employee as a result of termination or otherwise leaving employment, and employment contracts of public employees.
• Require a public body to designate a public-records officer.
• Provide that a public body cannot require a person seeking public records to give a reason for the request or to provide personally identifiable information about him or herself. •