A legislative proposal spurred by recent newspaper lawsuits would require government agencies to pay citizens' lawyer bills when they illegally deny access to public records.
The bill was introduced by Sen. David Hoyle of Gaston County. It would ensure citizens and groups would receive money to cover their legal costs when they sue for access to public records under the state's open records law.
Hoyle, who's a longtime proponent of open government laws, said the measure would make government agencies think twice about denying access to public records.
Many government organizations have opposed similar proposals before, citing fears that they will be hit with big legal bills for unintentionally blocking access to public records.
Hoyle says the bill would make payment of "reasonable" legal fees mandatory. The fees would be determined by a judge.