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Public records bill advances, but with Senate opposition

SC statehouse in Columbia.

A bill strengthening South Carolina's public records law by reducing fees and wait times for documents again faces opposition in the Senate.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Tuesday to advance the legislation to the Senate floor.

But Sen. Margie Bright Matthews is again objecting, making passage this year unlikely. The Walterboro Democrat says she dislikes the idea of creating a division within the Administrative Law Court to settle disputes over requested information. She argues the expected $141,400 cost creates more government.

South Carolina Press Association director Bill Rogers says that provision is essential, as it provides a quick and inexpensive resolution. Currently, the only way to force the government to comply is to sue in circuit court.

Similar bills have died repeatedly in the Senate over the last six years.

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