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Indiana Senate panel backs fines on access violators

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An Indiana Senate committee has endorsed allowing fines against government officials found to have blatantly violated the state's open meetings or open record laws.

The Senate's local government reform committee voted 10-0 Wednesday to send the proposal to the full Senate for consideration. That bill and a similar House proposal would allow a judge to impose civil fines up to $100 for a first offense and up to $500 for additional violations.

The sponsors say they expect such fines would be rare and could only be imposed after disputes were reviewed by the state's public access counselor office.

The bill would also allow residents to email requests for public meeting notices and allow government agencies to post those notices on their websites.

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