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Governor Murphy will decide the fate of access to public records in New Jersey

New Jersey has a law called the Open Public Records Act (OPRA).

This law aims to allow citizens to access various documents such as salaries, receipts, budgets and more of government employees.

There have always been certain exceptions to this law, but in general OPRA allows private citizens to gain insight into how our government operates.

Despite widespread opposition, the state Assembly and Senate have passed legislation that, if signed by Governor Murphy, will severely limit citizen access.

Changes to OPRA would have a chilling effect

Changes included in this legislation include higher fees for requests from commercial interests and it would give the state the ability to take an applicant to court if an agency believes the applicant is disrupting government function.

Additionally, if passed, it would allow a court to limit the number and type of motions if they disrupt government business.

Another change would eliminate the requirement that the state pay legal fees if they lose their court case.

Legal costs could deter information seekers

Those who oppose the OPRA change believe fear of being taken to court by the state will discourage people from filing.

Officials contend that the number of requests agencies are receiving is putting a strain on those agencies and costing taxpayers money.

But those who oppose the changes say it will only make it easier for government agencies to hide documents from the public.

The bill has arrived on Governor Murphy's desk, where it is awaiting his signature.

source: New Jersey Legislature Passes 'Reform' Eliminating Public Access to Government Records (msn.com)

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