Tennessee AG lawyer downplays jump to 553 record exemptions

Friday, September 14, 2018, Vol. 42, No. 37

NASHVILLE (AP) — A state attorney general's office lawyer is downplaying concerns that Tennessee code includes 553 public records exemptions, saying that's just nine added annually on average.

Janet Kleinfelter of the attorney general's office told a legislative panel Thursday that much has changed about the U.S. and technology since Tennessee created its public records act in 1957. She said there usually are very good reasons lawmakers passed exceptions.

Doug Pierce of the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters said the nine-per-year number doesn't account for recent growth. The comptroller's office cited two statutory exemptions in 1957, 89 by 1988, and now 553.

Multiple news media groups shared concerns about shielding of economic incentive information and certain permanently exempted investigative files, among other specifics.

The panel is mulling how to address the uptick in exemptions.