Some Changes Approved To Strengthen Open Records Laws

NASHVILLE (AP) -- A proposal to clarify and strengthen open records laws squeaked by on a 9-8 vote in a study committee on open government.

The approved changes explain the role of a newly hired ombudsman, who will answer questions and issue opinions on when government records must be available to the public and when officials are allowed to meet in private to discuss public business.

The changes also require any record not specifically exempt from public viewing to be open for inspection by any person requesting it. Previously the right to inspect records was limited to citizens of Tennessee.

Any decision on changes to the law has already been delayed several months.

The panel did not come to a final decision on changes to the state's "Sunshine Law," which governs when officials are allowed to meet in private.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)