Attorney General Dave Yost recently signaled his intent to recommend major revisions to the State of Ohio’s public records law. The Attorney General told the Columbus Dispatch that he wants to motivate greater compliance with existing public records law, and also notes that the law needs modernization, stating that “it hasn’t been revisited in many years. It’s no longer 1963, when it passed; it’s 2020.”

Public records in Ohio are governed by R.C. 149.43, which states that records kept by a public office are generally available for inspection and copying on request. However, the statute also contains a long list of items that do not meet the definition of “public record.” In addition to the specific items listed in the statute, there is a large body of case law providing a myriad of exceptions and additional exemptions to the availability of records.

To address these issues, AG Yost intends to empanel a group of lawyers, journalists, government officials, and privacy experts to recommend revisions to R.C. 149.43. Any revision to the statute will require action by the Ohio General Assembly, but AG Yost states he is seeking to recommend changes to legislators to ensure prompt disclosure of requested records, especially in light of technological developments which make the disclosure of requested records easier. AG Yost specifically pointed out that Ohio public records law does not currently set any firm deadlines for a public entity to respond to a public records request. Instead, the law only requires that the records be made available within a reasonable period of time after receiving a request.

The Attorney General’s comments appear to be part of an ongoing effort by the DeWine administration to reform public records law. One area of public records law that has received increased attention recently is disclosure of police body-worn camera footage. Last year, Governor Mike DeWine signed H.B. 425 into law which makes body-worn and dash-camera footage generally subject to disclosure. Whether AG Yost is successful in motivating more comprehensive revisions to R.C. 149.43 remains to be seen. However, public entities subject to Ohio’s public records law should pay careful attention to any changes made to R.C. 149.43 to ensure compliance with public records requests.

The attorneys at Fishel Downey Albrecht & Riepenhoff, LLP routinely advise public entities on compliance with Ohio’s public records law. If you have any questions about this or any other matter, please contact us at or call 614-221-1216.