New Jersey has a statute on the books called the Open Public Records Act, or OPRA.

This statute aims to allow citizens to access various documents like government employee salaries, receipts, budgets, and more.

There have always been certain exemptions from this statute, but generally speaking, OPRA allows private citizens to see the inner workings of our government.

Despite widespread opposition, the state assembly and senate passed legislation that if signed by Governor Murphy, will create severe limits to what citizens will have access to.

Changes to OPRA Would Have a Chilling Effect

Among the changes included in this legislation include charging more for requests made by commercial interests, and it would give the state the ability to take a requester to court if an agency believes that the requester is interrupting government function.

Additionally, if passed it would allow a court to limit the number and types of requests if if interrupts government business.

Another change would eliminate the requirement that the state pays for attorney fees if they lose their court case.

Court Costs Could Scare Off Those Looking for Information

Those who oppose the change in OPRA, believe the fear of being taken to court by the state, will scare people from submitting requests.

Officials claim that the number of requests that agencies receive is putting a burden on those agencies and costing the taxpayers money.

However, those who oppose the changes, say this is just making it easier for government agencies to hide documents from the public eye.

The bill has made its way to the desk of Governor Murphy where it awaits his signature.

Source:  NJ Legislature passes 'reform' that will dismantle public access to government records (msn.com)

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