The ACLU opposed HB 3094, which extends a special exemption to the public records law for Oregon Health & Science University. That law allows OHSU to redact the name and home address of anyone conducting animal research.
Oregon law already allows public employees in sensitive positions to remove references to their home addresses and phone numbers from public records. However, HB 3094 allows exclusion of even the identity of researchers or the companies that provide research animals to OHSU.
ACLU testified against HB 3094 because it is important for the news media and public interest groups to be able to examine public records. Here, the public has a right to know whether the research being done with taxpayer funds by OHSU—a public institution—is in compliance with federal standards aimed at avoiding animal abuse in research experiments. In the past, it has only been through public record requests by watchdog organizations and news media outlets that animal care issues have been brought to light, which resulted in needed reforms at OHSU.
Despite citing concerns about the safety of its researchers as the reason for this law, OHSU continues to post not only the names of many researchers on its website, but also their photographs. Posting photographs and the names of individuals who may be targeted seems contradictory to the argument that having names provided on public records creates a public safety risk.
As part of its testimony this year, OHSU submitted its log of public records requests since the law was passed a few years ago. The log shows that every request by groups associated with animal rights activities was significantly delayed and the records were redacted. But that same log shows that there was no such delay or redaction when OHSU responded to requests from media outlets. Oregon’s public records law does not distinguish between media and non-media requests. OHSU appears to be choosing to use its special exemption in the public records law to withhold information from its critics.
Because there was significant objection to HB 3094 in the Senate, a compromise version of the bill was passed, extending the law for only two more years, during which time a workgroup will be convened to address the inconsistent application of this law.
LOSS: PASSED INTO LAW
Scorecard Vote – Senate & House