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Senate panel votes to cut fees for public records

In this file photo from June, Sen. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, wears a mask as he sits in the Senate chambers in Santa Fe. He is sponsoring a bill to eliminate fees for public records. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE — A proposal to eliminate fees for copying public records — whether in print or electronically — cleared a Senate committee on a 4-2 vote Friday.

The legislation, Senate Bill 388, would change a provision in the Inspection of Public Records Act that allows for the charging of $1 a page or the cost of a digital storage device when providing public records in response to a request.

Sen. Michael Padilla, an Albuquerque Democrat and sponsor of the bill, said the goal was to “let the sunshine in” and ensure the cost of copies isn’t a barrier to obtaining public records.

The proposal passed the Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee and is set to head next to the Senate Judiciary Committee. It will have to move quickly to reach final passage before the session ends March 20.

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