State Senate bill would enforce consequences for withholding of public records 

The Wisconsin Senate moved on Wednesday to undo a state Supreme Court ruling that made it easier for state agencies to delay handing over public records, according to an article from the Associated Press. 

The bipartisan bill, which moves next to the Assembly, would make it easier for people who sue over open records requests to recover attorney’s fees.  

The state Supreme Court’s conservative majority ruled 4–3 last year that if a government authority voluntarily turns over records before a lawsuit goes to trial, then the records requester who brought the lawsuit is not entitled to attorney’s fees. The ruling eliminated consequences for state agencies that wait to turn over records until they have been sued. 

Without the ability to easily recover attorney’s fees, filing a lawsuit for records would be cost-prohibitive to most requesters.