Sept. 19, 2012 – During the “budget repair bill” debate of the past year, the Wisconsin courts considered headline-grabbing issues about the Wisconsin Public Records and Open Meetings Laws – from the Wisconsin Legislature’s meeting procedures to a local school board’s response to a media request for teachers’ sick-leave notes. The latest supplement to the State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE® The Wisconsin Public Records and Open Meetings Handbook, written by Melanie Swank, assistant city attorney with the Milwaukee City Attorney’s Office, covers these developments. But it goes beyond newspaper headlines – it analyzes the court decisions, and it examines the laws themselves.
Practical Applications of the Public Records and Open Meetings Laws
The handbook, available both in print and online via Books UnBound®, thoroughly explores the public records and open meetings laws. Part I discusses the practical applications of the public records law, explaining what should be included in a public records request, how public records custodians should respond to a request, and the time limits involved in the response process. The handbook also devotes one chapter to a discussion of the federal Freedom of Information Act and another chapter to the special issues of electronic public records, such as whether governmental employees’ personal e-mail communications might be subject to disclosure under the public records law. Part II of the Handbook, also taking a practical tack, discusses what entities and meetings are covered by the open meetings law, how notice of a meeting should be given to the public, when a meeting can be closed to the public, and how the open meetings law is enforced.
Updated Appendices, Added Value
Besides its substantive analysis, the handbook provides several useful materials in its appendices. One appendix reprints the Wisconsin Public Records and Open Meetings Laws in full, including all amendments made during the Wisconsin Legislature’s 2011 - 12 regular session. A second appendix summarizes key public records and open meetings cases, and a third lists and briefly describes statutory exceptions to the public records law. Other appendices provide samples of a notice for a public records request, a public notice for a meeting of a governmental body, and a verified open meetings law complaint. Finally, the 2012 supplement adds a Table of Cases and a Supplement Table of Cases to make relevant cases even easier to find.
The handbook is available in print to members for $129 and to nonmembers for $159, plus tax and shipping. Subscribers to the Bar’s automatic supplementation service will receive future updates at a discount off the regular price. Annual subscriptions to Books UnBound start at $149 per title and $649 for the full library (single-user prices; call for law firm pricing). To order or for more information, visit the WisBar Marketplace or call the State Bar at (800) 728-7788 or (608) 257-3838.
Attend the State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE® Public Records/Open Meetings live seminar on Sept. 27, in Madison, offered simultaneously as a webcast, and on Oct. 10 and 31 as a webcast. This seminar is co-produced by the Government Lawyers Division and the Administrative and Local Government Law Section.