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The Vermont Public Records Act

Under Vermont’s Public Records Act, 1 V.S.A. §§ 315-320, any person has the right to request inspection or copying of a public record from government agencies, including municipalities. The definition of a “public record” is very broad and includes “any written or recorded information, regardless of physical form or characteristics,” which is produced or acquired in the course of municipal business. 1 V.S.A. § 317(b).

Municipal officials must comply with the act’s legal requirements. MAC developed Public Records Act FAQs and a Model Public Records Policy to help clarify definitions, timelines, how to “promptly” respond as well as where to find important information about exemptions and retention requirements.

Transparency is an essential element of open and democratic government. In Vermont, the primary means of providing transparency are the Public Records Act, 1 V.S.A. §§ 315-320, and the Open Meeting Law, 1 V.S.A. §§ 310-314. These laws implement the command of Chapter I, Article 6 of the Vermont Constitution that officers of government are “trustees and servants” of the people and are “at all times, in a legal way, accountable to them.”

 

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