The Ohioans enjoy easy access to the records and meetings of the government under the provision of the Sunshine laws. Sunshine law is the collective term for open meetings and open records law. The office of Attorney General in Ohio ensures that both the citizens and the public officials are fully aware of there responsibilities and rights under the sunshine laws.
This law was first introduced by the general assembly in the year 1963. The law is based on the fact that public records which managed by officials are in fact the information of the people and the officials who handle it are merely the trustees of this information. And since the information is publics, it should also be open to the public.
The OH Open meetings law also mentions specific proceedings that should be undertaken during public meetings. The definition of this law is found in Statute 121.22 which is part of the Revised Code.
Requesting public records in the State of Ohio
All the government departments in OH are required to have a policy for public records, and along with that they are also supposed to designate a keeper for the records. This keeper must be given a copy of the policy, and upon receiving the copy he or she must sign as a proof of having received the document. Additionally the department should create a poster mentioning their policy of public records and must have it placed in visible location, within all its branches in the state. Any request for records must be directed to the keeper of the records who is in possession of the required record.
Uses and Purpose
There is no need to state the purpose while requesting for record in Ohio. In fact the requester does even need to reveal there identity. As per the law there are no restrictions as far as the use of the records is concerned and any intended use should not cause the denial of the request.
Who is eligible to request for public records in Ohio?
Everybody and anybody are eligible to request for public records over here. All requests must be responded to in a prompt manner.
How much is the Fees?
As per the law, individuals are free to choose the medium and method in which they would want to get the record the have requested for. The department providing the record for inspection is allowed to charge the individual a fee to cover the cost of providing the record in the selected medium. The law however is silent on the fact whether the department is allowed to charge for the cost of labor required for the compilation of the documents. An important point to note over here is that, there is no response time limit specified by the law.
Following are some of the Notable exemptions under Ohio open records law:
- Medical history or records
- Hearings of probation or parole
- Information of DNA, parentage and adoption
- Information that constitutes the preparation of a trial
- Information of investigations undertaken by the law enforcement agencies.
- Records carrying information of inmates
- Records of the youth services department
- Information of donor
- Secrets of trade within hospitals
- Recreational information of juveniles
- Information of people who apply for financial assistance.
It is important to note that the exemptions mentioned above are just the notable ones and are not limited to the ones mentioned above.
In case a piece of information contains both exempted and non exempted information, then as per law the non exempt material should be made available.
The yellow book or the sunshine law manual released by the attorney general’s office is an excellent tool to understand the Sunshine laws. This book can be used as a guide for understanding the provisions and obligations under this law. The book can be read, downloaded or printed by going to this link: http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/YellowBook