Revised Georgia open government bill gets early vote - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Revised Georgia open government bill gets early vote

By RAY HENRY
Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) - Government agencies that illegally withhold records from the public could be fined more under a rewrite of Georgia's open government law.

A House subcommittee voted Monday to give the measure initial approval, the first of several steps toward a floor vote.

Republican Rep. Jay Powell's bill would fine first-time offenders $1,000, an increase over the current $100 penalty. It would allow people to take civil, instead of just criminal action, against governments that improperly withhold records.

Open government advocates supported that change because proving civil violations is generally easier than proving criminal violations.

House lawmakers banned cameras from the committee hearing on the open government bill. They complained that people earlier had posted video critical of witnesses testifying before the committee on unrelated legislation.

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