Editor's Note: ONMA recommends all newsrooms to have a copy of this manual.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has released the 2018 edition of Ohio Sunshine Laws: An Open Government Resource Manual. The release of the manual, commonly referred to as the “Yellow Book,” coincides with the beginning of National Sunshine Week.
“By providing elected officials, public employees and Ohio citizens with information about public records and compliance, we help ensure accountability and transparency in the conduct of public business,” said Attorney General DeWine.
The Sunshine Laws Manual provides summaries of Revised Code provisions and case law regarding the Ohio Public Records Act and Open Meetings Act. The 2018 edition includes updates on recent open government legal decisions and law changes. The electronic edition, which can be accessed at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/YellowBook, includes clickable bookmarks to allow readers to quickly jump to the topic in which they are interested as well as hyperlinked court cases to allow readers to quickly access court decisions.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Public Records Unit also offers Online Sunshine Laws Training, which is available to the public and can be accessed at https://SunshineLaw.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/. The Online Sunshine Laws Training contains thirteen separate lessons plus an introduction video featuring the Attorney General.
Each lesson combines a video instruction with quiz questions covering important topics under the Ohio Public Records Act or Ohio Open Meetings Act. Topics cover the length and breadth of the Ohio Sunshine Laws, from defining a public record to appropriate redactions before release. To complete the training, users must watch each video lesson in its entirety, correctly answer the quiz questions concerning the material covered, and fill out an evaluation providing feedback on the quality of the training.
The training lessons can be completed at the user’s own pace, and the entire three-hour training does not need to be completed in a single sitting. Users are able to return to the videos they have completed if a specific topic is of particular interest. The online training is approved for CLE credit, as are live Sunshine Laws trainings, and can be completed at home or in the office.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Public Records Unit conducts Sunshine Laws Trainings at dozens of locations around Ohio. The training on Ohio’s Public Records Act is required for local public officials or their designee at least once per elected term and also includes training on the Open Meetings Act. These trainings are also open to the public and media. A list of trainings can be found at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/SunshineLawTraining.