NEFAC, Open Government Advocates Call for Broader R.I. Dept. of Safety APRA Regulations

CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 |


The open government coalition ACCESS/RI — of which the New England First Amendment Coalition is a member — recently testified in opposition to several proposed revisions to the Rhode Island Department of Safety regulations on public records.

ACCESS/RI provided suggestions on Jan. 18 that would broaden access to records under the state’s Access to Public Records Act and limit the amount of time allowed for disclosure. The suggestions include:

• Limit the extension for responses to public record requests to up to 20 days for good cause.

• Remove the “case-by-case balancing test” when privacy interests are at stake. This is “an inappropriate test for the release of public records,” ACCESS/RI wrote, adding that such a test is “not authorized by APRA and indeed is contrary to the architecture and logic of that statute.”

• Emphasize the ability of public bodies — and not just courts — to waive public record request fees.

ACCESS/Rhode Island is a coalition of non-profit organizations and First Amendment advocates in Rhode Island dedicated to ensuring government at all levels be accessible to the public. Member organizations include the Rhode Island Press Association, the ACLU of Rhode IslandCommon Cause Rhode Island, the Rhode Island League of Women Voters, and NEFAC, along with journalism professors, television journalists and other First Amendment advocates.

NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.

Our coalition is funded through contributions made by those who value the First Amendment and who strive to keep government accountable. Please make a donation here.

Major Supporters of NEFAC include the Barr Foundation, The Providence Journal Charitable Legacy Fund, The Robertson Foundation, Lois Howe McClure, The Boston Globe and Boston University. Celebration Supporters include The Hartford Courant and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.