LEGISLATIVE FISCAL ESTIMATE
[Second Reprint]
SENATE, No. 2930
STATE OF NEW JERSEY
221st LEGISLATURE
DATED: MAY 15, 2024
SUMMARY
Synopsis: Makes various changes to process for access to government records;
appropriates $10 million.
Type of Impact: Annual State and local cost and revenue impacts.
Agencies Affected: Department of Community Affairs; State, local government, and
school district agencies.
Office of Legislative Services Estimate
Fiscal Impact Year 1 Annually Thereafter
State Cost Impact Increase of up to $10 million Indeterminate
State Revenue Impact Indeterminate Indeterminate
Local Cost Impact Indeterminate Indeterminate
Local Revenue Impact Increase of up to $4 million Indeterminate
 The Office of Legislative Services (OLS) concludes that this bill will result in an indeterminate
net impact on the finances of State and local public agencies.
 The OLS determines that the bill may result in a State cost increase of up to $10 million in the
first year the bill is in effect. If the full $10 million is not expended in the first year, the residual
amount will be spent in subsequent fiscal years until the full $10 million is exhausted.
 The bill appropriates $4 million for the Department of Community Affairs to provide grants to
political subdivisions of the State to make government records available to the public
electronically, including through shared services agreements. The State expenditure increase
would lead to a concurrent revenue increase for counties, municipalities, and school districts
that receive grants under the program.
 The bill also appropriates $4 million to the Department of Community Affairs for the
operations of the Government Records Council, and an additional $2 million for the
Government Records Council to implement certain provisions of the bill.
Office of Legislative Services Legislative Budget and Finance Office
State House Annex Phone (609) 847-3105
P.O. Box 068 Fax (609) 777-2442
Trenton, New Jersey 08625 www.njleg.state.nj.us
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 Beyond the appropriated amount, the OLS is unable to estimate the direction and magnitude
of the bill’s net impact on State and local finances. This is so because of the countervailing
effects of the bill, some examples of which include:
1) Annual expenditure and revenue decreases for public agencies from an overall reduction in
the number of requests to which an agency must respond and the number of records which
must be produced.
2) Potential annual expenditure increases for public agencies to make any adjustments and
modifications necessary to meet accelerated records request fulfillment and complaint
adjudication timelines.
3) Annual State expenditure increase for a new salary of $12,000 for each of the eight public
members of the Government Records Council, pursuant to the bill.
4) Annual expenditure decrease for public agencies resulting from the bill’s provision that
removes the mandatory awarding of attorney’s fees to a requestor who prevails in any
complaint proceeding against a public agency.
BILL DESCRIPTION
This bill makes various changes to the law governing access to government records, commonly
known as the open public records act. The bill appropriates funds to assist local public agencies
in moving public records online, where members of the public can search for such documents.
Under the bill, records custodians are directed to withhold or redact records which include
personal identifying information, information which the custodian has reason to believe would
result in identity theft, and indecent or graphic images or video footage without prior written
consent from the subject of the images or video footage.
The bill makes it a disorderly persons offense to make public indecent or graphic images or
video footage obtained through a public record request, without the prior written consent of the
subject of the image or video footage.
This bill revises the structure and membership of the Government Records Council and
provides a salary to each of its members.
The bill also modifies several fees which may be charged by the custodian for certain records
requests; makes the award of attorney’s fees in a dispute over access to a government record
discretionary unless the public agency is found to have unreasonably denied access, acted in bad
faith, or knowingly and willfully violated the law; and shifts responsibility for fines and penalties
awarded as the result of an improper denial of a request for a public record from the custodian to
the public agency that employs the custodian.
The bill creates an extended timeline for records custodians to respond to requests from
“commercial requestors” who intend to use the record to generate a profit. The bill authorizes a
custodian to charge a special service fee to a commercial requestor who would like to receive the
record in seven business days instead of 14 business days.
This bill requires the Administrative Office of the Courts, on behalf of the Superior Court, to
provide the Government Records Council with a report of all cases related to the open public
records act at the end of each court year.
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FISCAL ANALYSIS
EXECUTIVE BRANCH
None received.
OFFICE OF LEGISLATIVE SERVICES
The OLS concludes that this bill will result in an indeterminate net impact on the finances of
State and local public agencies.
The OLS determines that the bill may result in a State cost increase of up to $10 million in the
first year the bill is in effect. If the full $10 million is not expended in the first year, the residual
amount will be spent in subsequent fiscal years until the full $10 million is exhausted.
The bill appropriates $4 million for the Department of Community Affairs to provide grants to
political subdivisions of the State to make government records available to the public
electronically, including through shared services agreements. The State expenditure increase
would lead to a concurrent revenue increase for counties, municipalities, and school districts that
receive grants under the program.
The bill also appropriates $4 million to the Department of Community Affairs for the
operations of the Government Records Council, and an additional $2 million for the Government
Records Council to implement certain provisions of the bill.
Beyond the appropriated amount, the OLS is unable to estimate the direction and magnitude
of the bill’s net impact on State and local finances. This is so because of the countervailing effects
of the bill, some of which are summarized in the following paragraphs.
The bill would result in annual expenditure and revenue decreases for public agencies from an
overall reduction in the number of requests to which an agency must respond and the number of
records which must be produced. For example, the bill permits requests for government records
to be fulfilled by providing the requestor with the online location of the records requested, which
would reduce agency costs. However, reducing the overall volume of records requests and
removing the option for a public agency to charge the actual cost of duplicating a record would
also reduce agency revenues.
The bill may also result in potential annual expenditure increases for certain public agencies
to make any adjustments and modifications necessary to meet accelerated records request
fulfillment and complaint adjudication timelines. Under the bill, the Government Records Council
would be required to adjudicate all complaints that come before it within 90 days of the complaint’s
filing, with the possibility of extending the deadline by 45 days in certain circumstances. Also,
the bill would require State and local election agencies to make records and information specified
in the bill available within two business days of receiving the request.
Pursuant to the bill, there would an annual State expenditure increase for a new salary of
$12,000 for each of the eight public members of the Government Records Council. The OLS
estimates these new salaries and related employment benefits would increase State costs by
$107,000 annually.
The bill would increase State expenditures by shifting the responsibility for civil penalties
awarded for the improper denial of a record request from the custodian to the public agency that
employs the custodian.
There may also be an annual State expenditure decrease for public agencies resulting from the
bill’s provision that removes the mandatory awarding of attorney’s fees to a requestor who prevails
in any complaint proceeding against a public agency. The bill makes the award of attorney’s fees
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in a dispute over access to a government record discretionary, unless the public agency is found to
have unreasonably denied access, acted in bad faith, or knowingly and willfully violated the law.
Additionally, the bill would increase State revenues by establishing fines for requestors who
intentionally fail to certify that they have made a public record request for a commercial purpose.
The bill would also increase State expenditures by requiring the Administrative Office of the
Courts to compile and provide the Government Records Council with a report detailing every case
filed with the Superior Court related to the open public records act, at the end of each court year.
The bill may also increase State and local expenditures by making it a disorderly persons
offense to make public indecent or graphic images or video footage obtained through a public
record request, without the prior written consent of the subject of the image or video footage.
Implementation of this provision would require increased monitoring and investigation to be
conducted by law enforcement agencies, and prosecutions for violations. Disorderly persons
offenses are adjudicated by municipal courts, in most circumstances.
Finally, the OLS notes the overall expenditure and revenue impacts for any one public agency
will depend on the change in the number of government records requests and the change in the
number of complaints filed by requestors. The OLS does not have specific data regarding the
government records requests handled by public agencies in the State.
Section: State Government
Analyst: Ryan Brinkerhoff
Deputy Counsel
Approved: Thomas Koenig
Legislative Budget and Finance Officer
This legislative fiscal estimate has been produced by the Office of Legislative Services due to the
failure of the Executive Branch to respond to our request for a fiscal note.
This fiscal estimate has been prepared pursuant to P.L.1980, c.67 (C.52:13B-6 et seq.).

Statutes affected:
Introduced: 47:1A-1, 47:1A-1.1, 47:1A-5, 47:1A-6, 47:1A-7, 47:1A-11, 47:1B-2