The Code of Alabama 1975 § 41-13-21 delegates the task of determining the permanency of local government records in Alabama to the Local Government Records Commission (LGRC). The Commission’s first meeting of 2021 was held in April via a publicly accessible online teleconference. Governor Kay Ivey’s March 18, 2020 proclamation permitted commissions to meet and establish a quorum electronically in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Read on for an overview of the events of the April 28, 2021 meeting.
Public Comment Period
The meeting began with a public comment session. Tara Bailey, co-founder of the nonpartisan advocacy group I Vote Madison, petitioned the Commission to consider revising current retention requirements for recordings of open meetings. Baily asserted that city council meetings are often held when many citizens cannot attend and that meeting minutes may not provide a complete picture of everything that occurred during a council meeting. Under the current retention schedule, audiovisual recordings are conceived only as a step to create minutes and must only be retained until meeting minutes have been approved. Bailey contends that extending the retention period of the recordings would increase access and transparency for citizens when they cannot attend a meeting. The LGRC and Alabama Department of Archives and History Records Management staff will research the preservation of audiovisual recordings and the Open Meetings Act and reevaluate the retention period at a future meeting.
Revisions to Local RDAs
The LGRC revises and approves Records Disposition Authorities (RDAs). There are several reasons that a local RDA would need to be revised. Some of the most common revisions are updating a retention period due to a change in law, adding a new series of records not already reflected in an RDA, and standardizing phrasing. At this time, there are 18 local RDAs, and a revision may apply to all, some, or just one RDA. Here are the revisions approved during the meeting.
Revisions to All or Multiple RDAs
- “Representative Final Versions of Informational and Promotional Materials” (revised record series)
This revision standardized wording. Previously, RDAs had various titles for these records, including “Historical and Publicity Files,” “Publicity and Information Files,” and “Publicity Files.” The record series title is now “Representative Final Versions of Informational and Promotional Materials.” This series remains permanent.
- “Informational and Promotional Working Files” (new series)
This new series addresses the number of materials generated during an ad campaign. Local governments may create several types of publicity materials, such as flyers, magazine ads, website banners, etc., for just one event. The agency does not need to save every iteration for preservation but may instead select final versions to represent the ad template as a whole for permanent retention.
- “Absentee Elections Materials” (revised record series)
Historically, unused absentee election materials were remanded to the Secretary of State’s office. This changed with the passage of Alabama Act 2019-507, which requires unused absentee election materials henceforth be sent to the sheriff’s office. The County Probate Offices, Local Law Enforcement Agencies, and Municipalities RDAs were revised to reflect each office’s updated legal obligation regarding these records.
- “Insurance Policies and Claims” (revised record series)
This revision expands the scope of the record series “Insurance Policies and Claims” to include a third sub-series, “Certificates of insurance for vendors.” The certificate provides proof of insurance and lists the local government agency as being additionally insured.
- “Landfill and Recycling Records” (revised record series)
This applies to the County Commissions and Municipalities RDAs. The revision adds recycling records to the RDAs and incorporates Alabama Department of Environmental Management standards.
Revisions to Fire Departments RDA
- “CPR Training Records and Educational Program Records” (new record series)
Fire departments may offer classes for which attendees must pay. The RDA previously only covered free courses. Two new series were added to account for fee-based classes, and the existing series “Routine accounting records” has been expanded to include the fees associated with the classes.
Revisions to County Probate Offices RDA
- “Records of Election Results” (revised record series)
This revision created an additional sub-series to account for records documenting the results of primary and primary runoff elections. Further revisions to wording clarified what comprises a statement of canvass.
- “Motor Vehicle Licensing Records” (revised record series)
The description of this series expanded to encompass changes within the Motor Vehicles Division. In January of 2019, probate offices began to issue print-on-demand motor vehicle registration decals to minimize illegal sales. The blank sheets’ destruction must be documented as an anti-theft measure. The description has also expanded to explicitly include credit vouchers given to the vehicles’ owners documenting the transfer of any partial registration balance to a new vehicle following the sale, theft, or total loss of a previously registered vehicle.
- “Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) Filings and State Federal Tax Liens” (Revised Record Series)
The retention period of UCC filings submitted to the county probate offices was updated to more accurately reflect the legal obligations set by the Code of Alabama 1975.
Revisions to Local Enforcement Agencies RDA
- “Alarm System Registration Records” (new records series)Some jurisdictions require that security alarms be registered with the local police department who permit said systems in order to minimize false alarms and ensure accurate contact information. This permitting function was not reflected in the current RDA. The new series’ retention accounts for the fact that a permit’s duration of validity varies by jurisdiction.
Revisions to Public Libraries RDA
- “Grant Project Files” (new records series)
This revision addresses records not previously included in the RDA. Public libraries receive grant funding from local, state, and federal agencies as well as private and nonprofit organizations. The previous RDA only acknowledged records from federal grants.
The second LGRC meeting of 2021 will be held virtually, on Monday, October 4, 2021. Interested individuals are encouraged to attend.