Recorded Personnel Data Bill Flips Private Data Classification

The League-opposed bill is the first measure to be considered for an omnibus data practices bill this session.
(Published Feb 27, 2017)

A bill that would reclassify from “private” to “public” any video, audio, or other recordings of government employees, independent contractors, or volunteers was heard in a House committee last week. The bill does not apply to recorded data that falls under the body camera law.

Personnel data under current law is presumed to be private, unless specifically identified as public.

HF 1316 (Rep. John Lesch, DFL-St. Paul) was laid over for possible inclusion in an omnibus data practices bill in the House Civil Law & Data Practices Committee.

The Minnesota Coalition on Government Information brought the bill. The impetus for the proposal was the Minnesota Supreme Court’s decision, KSTP v. Metro Transit, 884 N.W.2d 342 (Minn. 2016), which resulted in a complicated data practices decision.

The court held, in part, that though the video data was collected as government data and considered public, the video data was maintained only as personnel data at the time of the data practices request and therefore private. The court also concluded that if the video was maintained for several purposes at the time of the request, then the video data would be public.

League’s testimony in opposition
The League testified against the bill, highlighting that the bill’s language focused on form (i.e., video), and not content, which would result in including more types of data than the situations in the KSTP case.

But more importantly, the bill would also confuse the presumption of personnel data, which is private. For example, personnel data on paper would be private, but the same data that is on video would be public.

Rep. Lesch is working with stakeholders, including the League, on possible language that would be amenable to the interested parties.

There is no Senate companion to this bill yet.

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