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When is a member of the state Legislature not a member of the state Legislature?
Have we a nonsense question here?
Perhaps, but it’s a conundrum with which the Legislature grappled late in the recent session, as it crafted a resolution defining which emails dispatched or received by a legislator should be subject to provisions of the state’s Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA).
Enacted in 1994, IPRA is a variation on the federal Freedom of Information Act, one of many such laws throughout the country designed to foster transparency and openness in the conduct of governmental affairs by permitting citizens access to public records.
Such laws have been pains in the butts for many elected officials who would rather not have their every action subject to public scrutiny.
Sarah Palin ran afoul of Alaska open records act while governor of that state when she used her private email to conduct “sensitive” public business and got slapped by her state’s Supreme Court for circumventing the law.
New Mexico’s Gov. Susana Martinez experienced similar grief after it was discovered that her administration was skirting the state’s IPRA by using private emails, whereupon the she announced that henceforth her staffers would conduct the public’s business via government email accounts.
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