Democracy works slowly. While that frustrates some people, a deliberate, transparent process provides the best foundation for representative government. Often, important decisions take years — not months — and then subsequent corrective actions follow.
Senate File 123 would update Minnesota Statute 138.17 to define an electronic record as “any communication whose creation, storage, transmission, or access requires the use of an automated information system or a similar electronic device. An electronic record includes the content of the communication, transactional information related to the communication, and any attachments to the body of the communications message.”
Because emails and texts have become norms in communication today, the state needs a law to ensure that governments operate with full disclosure, which is why we draw attention to SF 123 during national Sunshine Week: Your Right to Know.
The Minnesota Newspaper Association, which is monitoring the electronic records debate, notes that talks to date on Sen. Ron Latz’s bill vividly demonstrate how complex this issue is and how difficult it will be to develop a coherent and workable state policy. This is primarily because emails contain so many different kinds of information.
Here are two examples:
• Emails fire back and forth until government officials agree on a meeting date and then they notify the public. Members perhaps could delete that email once the meeting is scheduled, provided they didn’t discuss the agenda item(s). Without retaining the emails, however, they can’t refute accusations of an Open Meeting Law violation.
• County commissioners…
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