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Government

Judge Rules Lawmaker E-mails About Legislation Not A Public Record

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House Republican Caucus
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A Marion County judge says the House Republican caucus doesn’t have to make lawmaker emails public under Indiana’s open records law. 

Citizen advocacy groups and an energy institute filed a lawsuit against the House GOP caucus and Rep. Eric Koch (R-Bedford) in April after the caucus refused to hand over Koch’s emails involving a solar energy bill. 

House Republicans argue the state’s Access to Public Records Act, or APRA, doesn’t apply to them, while groups such as the Citizens Action Coalition say it should. 

But Marion County Judge James Osborn dismissed the case in a preliminary stage, on the grounds that the judicial branch can’t interfere with internal legislative matters. 

Coalition executive director Kerwin Olson says the judge’s decision was surprising and frustrating.

“We believe this is an incredibly important issue that gets at the core of accountability and transparency in government and how we’re writing our policies, which is motivation for appealing this to a higher court because we believe this is an issue that merits discussion,” Olson says.

Olson says he and the other groups will review the judge’s ruling with their attorneys and decide whether to appeal -- though he says an appeal is likely. 

The bill in question never made it to the floor. Speaker Brian Bosma quashed it because of questions about how its committee hearing was handled.

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