This will be an issue for genealogists. Tennessee may become the latest state to start charging a fee for the time it takes to fulfill a public records request, a practice that’s emerging in some states and one that opponents say simply aims to discourage requests.
This fall, the Tennessee Office of Open Record Counsel will conduct several public hearings on charging a fee for the search and retrieval of public records. While the state can already charge for copies of public records, inspection is generally free. But earlier this year, the state’s School Board Association pushed legislation proposing an hourly labor charge for public records request (with no charge for the first hour of labor). The legislation, which was tabled until next year, also stipulated that the first 25 copies would be free.
The Tennessee Coalition for Open Government and the state press association vehemently opposed the legislation.