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Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - 2:56am

Senate Committee OKs Open Records Changes

A Senate committee has approved proposed legislation that would make obtaining public documents cheaper while stiffening penalties for illegally withholding public information and shortening the window of public scrutiny for candidates for university president under Georgia's open government laws.

The Senate Judiciary Committee recommended sending the bill to the full Senate for a vote. The House overwhelmingly passed the proposal earlier this month.

Concerns were raised about an exemption for the state's economic development department, which argued sensitive deals could be otherwise jeopardized and a decision to shorten the window of public scrutiny for people being considered to run the state's colleges or its university system — a request from the Board of Regents, which says the current 14-day requirement risks losing talented applicants.

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