Gov. Holcomb vetoes hourly fee for public records searches

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Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb

INDIANAPOLIS — Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb issued his first veto on Monday, rejecting a bill that would have allowed government agencies to charge an hourly fee to fulfill public records requests that take more than two hours to complete.

The veto may not hold up, however, as the bill received strong support when it passed and each legislative chamber would only need simple majorities to override the governor.

Holcomb wrote in his veto message that he doesn’t support creating “burdensome obstacles” to obtaining public documents.

“Providing access to public records is a key part of the work public servants perform and is important from a government transparency standpoint,” he wrote.

State law currently prohibits public agencies from charging a fee to search for, examine or review a record. The measure would have allowed agencies to charge the lesser of $20 per hour or the hourly wage of the employee completing the search after the first two hours.

Holcomb said he does support a provision in the bill that would require agencies to provide electronic copies of public records if they already exist in that format and are requested.

In his message, he wrote that he challenged his office to examine the best ways to “provide public transparency and access to public records at the highest possible value to taxpayers.”

Former Gov. Mike Pence vetoed a similar measure in 2015.