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Summary: Under current law, an autopsy photograph or x-ray is exempt from mandatory disclosure except under a subpoena when a person dies in custody. However, under state public information law, a government entity that receives a request for an autopsy record and wishes to withhold the record believing it to be exempt must request a decision from the Attorney General's office about whether the record falls under the exemption. HB 688 removes the requirement of requesting an open records decision from the Attorney General and allows the government entity to decide.
Analysis: HB 688 removes a burden on the Attorney General's office by not requiring that office to make an open records determination for every request. Local government entities should have enough familiarity with the open records law and the exemptions preventing disclosure of certain autopsy records to make the determination on their own. If a person requesting records believes something has been improperly withheld, they still have the ability to file a complaint against a government entity that does not disclose records and have the decision reviewed at a higher level. This prevents unnecessary delay in processing requests.