New Jersey Leader Signs Controversial Government Records Law

New Jersey Signs Law limiting Government Records Access

( – New Jersey’s Democratic governor, Philip D. Murphy, has signed a new state law that will reportedly impose more restrictions on the accessibility of government records.

Murphy said the law is part of the state’s efforts to modernize the Open Public Records Act, an existing state law passed in 2002 to improve government transparency. It gave citizens and journalists the ability to access government documents with relative ease to monitor for possible incidents of corruption. It alerted the public of state failures in properly caring for veterans during the 2020 health emergency. Its provisions also helped the people of New Jersey discover a host of other instances of corruption.

The new law has angered many activists, including those working with the New Jersey Foundation for Open Government, who expressed concerns over the lack of publicly available information needed to monitor for government corruption. They believe it will pave the way for new levels of corruption to consume the state without accountability. They also believe there are better ways to reduce misuse of government records.

Murphy responded to critics on June 5 by acknowledging that many residents and activists in the state would be disappointed. However, he continued defending the new law by saying that he would’ve vetoed the bill if he felt it would allow corruption to fester.

Government records relating to budgeting, contracts, and vouchers could now be delayed if they’re over two years old. They were previously readily available when ordered.

State representatives supporting the bill said that it was essential in limiting access to data-broker platforms. These include companies that gather and sell large volumes of local, state, and federal government data online. Some state government agencies claimed those companies overwhelmed government resources with their requests. One Democrat assemblyman, Joe Danielson, also said it was signed to protect taxpayer resources.

However, advocates against the legislation said it will serve as a blot on Murphy’s record. Murphy’s administration campaigned on promises to increase government transparency during his term.

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