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The Ohio Public Records Act


Ohio Revised Code 149.43 is known as the Ohio Public Records Act or the "Sunshine Laws."  ORC 149.43 requires that public meetings be open to the public, that public records be open and available to the public and that public records be maintained in such a manner that they will be available to the public upon request.  The act also requires that each office has a copy of its retention schedule for the public.  Failure to abide by ORC 149.43 may result in civil penalties against the office in question.

The Ohio Public Records Act is best summed up by this quote:

"The rule in Ohio is that public records are the people's records, and that the officials in whose custody they happen to be are merely trustees for the people; therefore anyone may inspect such records at any time, subject only to the limitation that such inspection does not endanger the safety of the record, or unreasonably interfere with the discharge of the duties of the officer having custody of the same."  (Patterson v. Ayers, 171 Ohio St. 369, 1960)

The Ohio Public Records Act is extensive and has many exceptions.  Each year, the Ohio Attorney General in cooperation with the State Auditor publishes the Ohio Sunshine Laws:  An Open Government Resource Manual.  County employees with questions regarding the Sunshine Laws and its application to their office should contact the Prosecuting Attorney's office.