Exceptions chip away at Ohio Open Records Law

When Ohio’s Open Records Law was originally enacted, it was an excellent safeguard against local and state governments keeping secrets from the public. Now, not so much.

It has been pointed out that during the ensuing years, 29 exemptions from the law have been approved by the General Assembly.

Some of the exemptions seem absurd. Who, for example, even cares about records on “the recreational activities of a person under the age of eighteen”? Someone cared enough to provide that such records can be kept secret.

But there are other, more troubling exemptions. For example, one shields “records the release of which is prohibited by state or federal law.”

In other words, a bureaucrat desiring to keep secrets has only to convince the General Assembly to pass the law he requires, outside the main open records statute.

More bills restricting access to public records are expected to be introduced in the General Assembly this year. At some point, Ohioans should just say “no” to attempts to weaken their right to know about both local and state government.