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State Agency Withdraws Government Record Storage Rules

By Nanette Forbes
TAC Legislative Staff

On Monday, Jan. 9, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, after hearing testimony from county associations, temporarily withdrew the proposed rules for storage of local government records.

The commission was given the responsibility to develop rules to implement HB 1559, passed last session and authored by Rep. Sarah Davis (R-Houston).

Karen McQueen, Brazos County clerk representing the County and District Clerks Association of Texas, testified before the commission that complying with the requirements of the bill would be cost prohibitive.

The proposed storage requirements, for example, required that records be stored in a building maintained at 70 degrees Fahrenheit with a constant relative humidity of 45 percent with a maximum variance of plus/minus 5 percent relative humidity in a 24-hour period. Furthermore, records could not be exposed to sunlight and must be stored at least 4 feet off the floor. Storing of records in the basement of a building located in a 100-year flood plain area was also prohibited.

“While understanding and agreeing that there is a need to preserve our records, at this time, with budget short falls and restraints, counties just can't afford to implement these rules without creating financial hardships for our counties,” McQueen said. “County judges and commissioners are not willing to raise the taxes of our citizens to accomplish the building or remodeling of a building to create a records storage facility."

The commission received a voluminous response from counties urging it not to adopt the proposed rules. The commission also heard testimony from Jim Allison, general counsel to the County Judges and Commissioners Association.

Due to the overwhelming response, the commission withdrew the rules and instructed agency staff to work with stakeholders to revise the proposed rules for further consideration in October 2012.