Title 30 - Public Records
Freedom of Information Act
This chapter shall be known and cited as the "Freedom of Information Act".
HISTORY: 1978 Act No. 593, Section 1.
The General Assembly finds that it is vital in a democratic society that public business be performed in an open and public manner so that citizens shall be advised of the performance of public officials and of the decisions that are reached in public activity and in the formulation of public policy. Toward this end, provisions of this chapter must be construed so as to make it possible for citizens, or their representatives, to learn and report fully the activities of their public officials at a minimum cost or delay to the persons seeking access to public documents or meetings.
HISTORY: 1987 Act No. 118, Section 1.
(a) "Public body" means any department of the State, a majority of directors or their representatives of departments within the executive branch of state government as outlined in Section 1-30-10, any state board, commission, agency, and authority, any public or governmental body or political subdivision of the State, including counties, municipalities, townships, school districts, and special purpose districts, or any organization, corporation, or agency supported in whole or in part by public funds or expending public funds, including committees, subcommittees, advisory committees, and the like of any such body by whatever name known, and includes any quasi-governmental body of the State and its political subdivisions, including, without limitation, bodies such as the South Carolina Public Service Authority and the South Carolina State Ports Authority. Committees of health care facilities, which are subject to this chapter, for medical staff disciplinary proceedings, quality assurance, peer review, including the medical staff credentialing process, specific medical case review, and self-evaluation, are not public bodies for the purpose of this chapter.
(b) "Person" includes any individual, corporation, partnership, firm, organization or association.
(c) "Public record" includes all books, papers, maps, photographs, cards, tapes, recordings, or other documentary materials regardless of physical form or characteristics prepared, owned, used, in the possession of, or retained by a public body. Records such as income tax returns, medical records, hospital medical staff reports, scholastic records, adoption records, records related to registration, and circulation of library materials which contain names or other personally identifying details regarding the users of public, private, school, college, technical college, university, and state institutional libraries and library systems, supported in whole or in part by public funds or expending public funds, or records which reveal the identity of the library patron checking out or requesting an item from the library or using other library services, except nonidentifying administrative and statistical reports of registration and circulation, and other records which by law are required to be closed to the public are not considered to be made open to the public under the provisions of this act; nothing herein authorizes or requires the disclosure of those records where the public body, prior to January 20, 1987, by a favorable vote of three-fourths of the membership, taken after receipt of a written request, concluded that the public interest was best served by not disclosing them. Nothing herein authorizes or requires the disclosure of records of the Board of Financial Institutions pertaining to applications and surveys for charters and branches of banks and savings and loan associations or surveys and examinations of the institutions required to be made by law. Information relating to security plans and devices proposed, adopted, installed, or utilized by a public body, other than amounts expended for adoption, implementation, or installation of these plans and devices, is required to be closed to the public and is not considered to be made open to the public under the provisions of this act.
(d) "Meeting" means the convening of a quorum of the constituent membership of a public body, whether corporal or by means of electronic equipment, to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public body has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power.
(e) "Quorum" unless otherwise defined by applicable law means a simple majority of the constituent membership of a public body.
HISTORY: 1978 Act No. 593, Section 3; 1985 Act No. 108, Section 3; 1987 Act No. 118, Section 2; 2002 Act No. 339, Section 17; 2003 Act No. 86, Section 7.
SECTION 30-4-30. Right to inspect or copy public records; fees; notification as to public availability of records; presumption upon failure to give notice; records to be available when requestor appears in person.
(A)(1) A person has a right to inspect, copy, or receive an electronic transmission of any public record of a public body, except as otherwise provided by Section 30-4-40, or other state and federal laws, in accordance with reasonable rules concerning time and place of access. This right does not extend to individuals serving a sentence of imprisonment in a state or county correctional facility in this State, in another state, or in a federal correctional facility; however, this may not be construed to prevent those individuals from exercising their constitutionally protected rights, including, but not limited to, their right to call for evidence in their favor in a criminal prosecution under the South Carolina Rules of Criminal Procedure.
(2) A public body is not required to create an electronic version of a public record when one does not exist to fulfill a records request.
(B) The public body may establish and collect fees as provided for in this section. The public body may establish and collect reasonable fees not to exceed the actual cost of the search, retrieval, and redaction of records. The public body shall develop a fee schedule to be posted online. The fee for the search, retrieval, or redaction of records shall not exceed the prorated hourly salary of the lowest paid employee who, in the reasonable discretion of the custodian of the records, has the necessary skill and training to perform the request. Fees charged by a public body must be uniform for copies of the same record or document and may not exceed the prevailing commercial rate for the producing of copies. Copy charges may not apply to records that are transmitted in an electronic format. If records are not in electronic format and the public body agrees to produce them in electronic format, the public body may charge for the staff time required to transfer the documents to electronic format. However, members of the General Assembly may receive copies of records or documents at no charge from public bodies when their request relates to their legislative duties. The records must be furnished at the lowest possible cost to the person requesting the records. Records must be provided in a form that is both convenient and practical for use by the person requesting copies of the records concerned, if it is equally convenient for the public body to provide the records in this form. Documents may be furnished when appropriate without charge or at a reduced charge where the agency determines that waiver or reduction of the fee is in the public interest because furnishing the information can be considered as primarily benefiting the general public. Fees may not be charged for examination and review to determine if the documents are subject to disclosure. A deposit not to exceed twenty-five percent of the total reasonably anticipated cost for reproduction of the records may be required prior to the public body searching for or making copies of records.
(C) Each public body, upon written request for records made under this chapter, shall within ten days (excepting Saturdays, Sundays, and legal public holidays) of the receipt of the request, notify the person making the request of its determination and the reasons for it; provided, however, that if the record is more than twenty-four months old at the date the request is made, the public body has twenty days (excepting Saturdays, Sundays, and legal public holidays) of the receipt to make this notification. This determination must constitute the final opinion of the public body as to the public availability of the requested public record, however, the determination is not required to include a final decision or express an opinion as to whether specific portions of the documents or information may be subject to redaction according to exemptions provided for by Section 30-4-40 or other state or federal laws. If the request is granted, the record must be furnished or made available for inspection or copying no later than thirty calendar days from the date on which the final determination was provided, unless the records are more than twenty-four months old, in which case the public body has no later than thirty-five calendar days from the date on which the final determination was provided. If a deposit as provided in subsection (B) is required by the public body, the record must be furnished or made available for inspection or copying no later than thirty calendar days from the date on which the deposit is received, unless the records are more than twenty-four months old, in which case the public body has no later than thirty-five calendar days from the date on which the deposit was received to fulfill the request. The full amount of the total cost must be paid at the time of the production of the request. If written notification of the determination of the public body as to the availability of the requested public record is neither mailed, electronically transmitted, nor personally delivered to the person requesting the document within the time set forth by this section, the request must be considered approved as to nonexempt records or information. Exemptions from disclosure as set forth in Section 30-4-40 or by other state or federal laws are not waived by the public body's failure to respond as set forth in this subsection. The various response, determination, and production deadlines provided by this subsection are subject to extension by written mutual agreement of the public body and the requesting party at issue, and this agreement shall not be unreasonably withheld.
(D) The following records of a public body must be made available for public inspection and copying during the hours of operations of the public body, unless the record is exempt pursuant to Section 30-4-40 or other state or federal laws, without the requestor being required to make a written request to inspect or copy the records when the requestor appears in person:
(1) minutes of the meetings of the public body for the preceding six months;
(2) all reports identified in Section 30-4-50(A)(8) for at least the fourteen-day period before the current day;
(3) documents identifying persons confined in a jail, detention center, or prison for the preceding three months; and
(4) all documents produced by the public body or its agent that were distributed to or reviewed by a member of the public body during a public meeting for the preceding six-month period.
(E) A public body that places the records in a form that is both convenient and practical for use on a publicly available Internet website is deemed to be in compliance with the provisions of subsection (D), provided that the public body also shall produce documents pursuant to this section upon request.
HISTORY: 1978 Act No. 593, Section 4; 1987 Act No. 118, Section 4; 1990 Act No. 555, Section 1; 1998 Act No. 423, Section 1; 2017 Act No. 67 (H.3352), Section 1, eff May 19, 2017.
Effect of Amendment
2017 Act No. 67, Section 1, rewrote the section, providing that electronic transmissions are included among the record formats available for inspection, providing certain limitations applicable to prisoners, providing that public bodies are not required to create electronic versions of public records to fulfill records requests, revising requirements concerning records request fulfillment fees, permitting public bodies to charge certain deposits before searching and copying public records in response to records requests, and revising the time limits and manner for responding to records requests.
(a) A public body may but is not required to exempt from disclosure the following information:
(1) Trade secrets, which are defined as unpatented, secret, commercially valuable plans, appliances, formulas, or processes, which are used for the making, preparing, compounding, treating, or processing of articles or materials which are trade commodities obtained from a person and which are generally recognized as confidential and work products, in whole or in part collected or produced for sale or resale, and paid subscriber information. Trade secrets also include, for those public bodies who market services or products in competition with others, feasibility, planning, and marketing studies, marine terminal service and nontariff agreements, and evaluations and other materials which contain references to potential customers, competitive information, or evaluation.
(2) Information of a personal nature where the public disclosure thereof would constitute unreasonable invasion of personal privacy. Information of a personal nature shall include, but not be limited to, information as to gross receipts contained in applications for business licenses, information relating to public records which include the name, address, and telephone number or other such information of an individual or individuals who are handicapped or disabled when the information is requested for person-to-person commercial solicitation of handicapped persons solely by virtue of their handicap, and any audio recording of the final statements of a dying victim in a call to 911 emergency services. Any audio of the victim's statements must be redacted prior to the release of the recording unless the privacy interest is waived by the victim's next of kin. This provision must not be interpreted to restrict access by the public and press to information contained in public records.
(3) Records, video or audio recordings, or other information compiled for law enforcement purposes, but only to the extent that the production of such law enforcement records or information:
(A) would interfere with a prospective law enforcement proceeding;
(B) would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication;
(C) would constitute an unreasonable invasion of personal privacy;
(D) would disclose the identity of a confidential source, including a state, local, or foreign agency or authority or any private institution which furnished information on a confidential basis, and, in the case of a record or information compiled by criminal law enforcement authority in the course of a criminal investigation, by an agency conducting a lawful security intelligence investigation, or information furnished by a confidential source;
(E) would disclose current techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose current guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if such disclosure would risk circumvention of the law;
(F) would endanger the life or physical safety of any individual;
(G) would disclose any contents of intercepted wire, oral, or electronic communications not otherwise disclosed during a trial.
(4) Matters specifically exempted from disclosure by statute or law.
(5) Documents of and documents incidental to proposed contractual arrangements and documents of and documents incidental to proposed sales or purchases of property; however:
(a) these documents are not exempt from disclosure once a contract is entered into or the property is sold or purchased except as otherwise provided in this section;
(b) a contract for the sale or purchase of real estate shall remain exempt from disclosure until the deed is executed, but this exemption applies only to those contracts of sale or purchase where the execution of the deed occurs within twelve months from the date of sale or purchase;
(c) confidential proprietary information provided to a public body for economic development or contract negotiations purposes is not required to be disclosed.
(6) All compensation paid by public bodies except as follows:
(A) For those persons receiving compensation of fifty thousand dollars or more annually, for all part-time employees, for any other persons who are paid honoraria or other compensation for special appearances, performances, or the like, and for employees at the level of agency or department head, the exact compensation of each person or employee;
(B) For classified and unclassified employees, including contract instructional employees, not subject to item (A) above who receive compensation between, but not including, thirty thousand dollars and fifty thousand dollars annually, the compensation level within a range of four thousand dollars, such ranges to commence at thirty thousand dollars and increase in increments of four thousand dollars;
(C) For classified employees not subject to item (A) above who receive compensation of thirty thousand dollars or less annually, the salary schedule showing the compensation range for that classification including longevity steps, where applicable;
(D) For unclassified employees, including contract instructional employees, not subject to item (A) above who receive compensation of thirty thousand dollars or less annually, the compensation level within a range of four thousand dollars, such ranges to commence at two thousand dollars and increase in increments of four thousand dollars.
(E) For purposes of this subsection (6), "agency head" or "department head" means any person who has authority and responsibility for any department of any institution, board, commission, council, division, bureau, center, school, hospital, or other facility that is a unit of a public body.
(7) Correspondence or work products of legal counsel for a public body and any other material that would violate attorney-client relationships.
(8) Memoranda, correspondence, and working papers in the possession of individual members of the General Assembly or their immediate staffs; however, nothing herein may be construed as limiting or restricting public access to source documents or records, factual data or summaries of factual data, papers, minutes, or reports otherwise considered to be public information under the provisions of this chapter and not specifically exempted by any other provisions of this chapter.
(9) Memoranda, correspondence, documents, and working papers relative to efforts or activities of a public body and of a person or entity employed by or authorized to act for or on behalf of a public body to attract business or industry to invest within South Carolina; however, an incentive agreement made with an industry or business: (1) requiring the expenditure of public funds or the transfer of anything of value, (2) reducing the rate or altering the method of taxation of the business or industry, or (3) otherwise impacting the offeror fiscally, is not exempt from disclosure after:
(a) the offer to attract an industry or business to invest or locate in the offeror's jurisdiction is accepted by the industry or business to whom the offer was made; and
(b) the public announcement of the project or finalization of any incentive agreement, whichever occurs later.
(10) Any standards used or to be used by the South Carolina Department of Revenue for the selection of returns for examination, or data used or to be used for determining such standards, if the commission determines that such disclosure would seriously impair assessment, collection, or enforcement under the tax laws of this State.
(11) Information relative to the identity of the maker of a gift to a public body if the maker specifies that his making of the gift must be anonymous and that his identity must not be revealed as a condition of making the gift. For the purposes of this item, "gift to a public body" includes, but is not limited to, gifts to any of the state-supported colleges or universities and museums. With respect to the gifts, only information which identifies the maker may be exempt from disclosure. If the maker of any gift or any member of his immediate family has any business transaction with the recipient of the gift within three years before or after the gift is made, the identity of the maker is not exempt from disclosure.
(12) Records exempt pursuant to Section 9-16-80(B) and 9-16-320(D).
(13) All materials, regardless of form, gathered by a public body during a search to fill an employment position, except that materials relating to not fewer than the final three applicants under consideration for a position must be made available for public inspection and copying. In addition to making available for public inspection and copying the materials described in this item, the public body must disclose, upon request, the number of applicants considered for a position. For the purpose of this item "materials relating to not fewer than the final three applicants" do not include an applicant's income tax returns, medical records, social security number, or information otherwise exempt from disclosure by this section.
(14)(A) Data, records, or information of a proprietary nature, produced or collected by or for faculty or staff of state institutions of higher education in the conduct of or as a result of study or research on commercial, scientific, technical, or scholarly issues, whether sponsored by the institution alone or in conjunction with a governmental body or private concern, where the data, records, or information has not been publicly released, published, copyrighted, or patented.
(B) Any data, records, or information developed, collected, or received by or on behalf of faculty, staff, employees, or students of a state institution of higher education or any public or private entity supporting or participating in the activities of a state institution of higher education in the conduct of or as a result of study or research on medical, scientific, technical, scholarly, or artistic issues, whether sponsored by the institution alone or in conjunction with a governmental body or private entity until the information is published, patented, otherwise publicly disseminated, or released to an agency whereupon the request must be made to the agency. This item applies to, but is not limited to, information provided by participants in research, research notes and data, discoveries, research projects, proposals, methodologies, protocols, and creative works.
(C) The exemptions in this item do not extend to the institution's financial or administrative records.
(15) The identity, or information tending to reveal the identity, of any individual who in good faith makes a complaint or otherwise discloses information, which alleges a violation or potential violation of law or regulation, to a state regulatory agency.
(16) Records exempt pursuant to Sections 59-153-80(B) and 59-153-320(D).
(17) Structural bridge plans or designs unless: (a) the release is necessary for procurement purposes; or (b) the plans or designs are the subject of a negligence action, an action set forth in Section 15-3-530, or an action brought pursuant to Chapter 78 of Title 15, and the request is made pursuant to a judicial order.
(18) Photographs, videos, and other visual images, and audio recordings of and related to the performance of an autopsy, except that the photographs, videos, images, or recordings may be viewed and used by the persons identified in Section 17-5-535 for the purposes contemplated or provided for in that section.
(19) Private investment and other proprietary financial data provided to the Venture Capital Authority by a designated investor group or an investor as those terms are defined by Section 11-45-30.
(b) If any public record contains material which is not exempt under subsection (a) of this section, the public body shall separate the exempt and nonexempt material and make the nonexempt material available in accordance with the requirements of this chapter.
(c) Information identified in accordance with the provisions of Section 30-4-45 is exempt from disclosure except as provided therein and pursuant to regulations promulgated in accordance with this chapter. Sections 30-4-30, 30-4-50, and 30-4-100 notwithstanding, no custodian of information subject to the provisions of Section 30-4-45 shall release the information except as provided therein and pursuant to regulations promulgated in accordance with this chapter.
(d) A public body may not disclose a "privileged communication", " protected information", or a "protected identity", as defined in Section 23-50-15 pursuant to a request under the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act. These matters may only be disclosed pursuant to the procedures set forth in Section 23-50-45.
HISTORY: 1978 Act No. 593, Section 5; 1980 Act No. 495, Section 1; 1987 Act No. 118, Section 5; 1993 Act No. 181, Section 489; 1994 Act No. 404, Section 1; 1995 Act No. 1, Section 11; 1996 Act No. 458, Part II, Section 31D; 1998 Act No. 371, Section 7A; 1998 Act No. 423, Sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 6; 1999 Act No. 122, Section 4; 2002 Act No. 339, Sections 18, 19, 29; 2002 Act No. 350, Section 1; 2003 Act No. 34, Section 2; 2003 Act No. 86, Sections 4, 5; 2005 Act No. 125, Section 2; 2006 Act No. 380, Section 2, eff upon approval (became law without the Governor's signature on June 14, 2006); 2017 Act No. 67 (H.3352), Section 2, eff May 19, 2017.
Effect of Amendment
The 2006 amendment added subsection (d) relating to certain disclosures by a public body.
2017 Act No. 67, Section 2, amended (a)(2) and (a)(3), revising provisions concerning law enforcement records.
(A) The director of each agency that is the custodian of information subject to the provisions of 42 U.S.C. 7412(r)(7)(H), 40 CFR 1400 "Distribution of Off-site Consequence Analysis Information", or 10 CFR 73.21 "Requirements for the protection of safeguards information", must establish procedures to ensure that the information is released only in accordance with the applicable federal provisions.
(B) The director of each agency that is the custodian of information, the unrestricted release of which could increase the risk of acts of terrorism, may identify the information or compilations of information by notifying the Attorney General in writing, and shall promulgate regulations in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act, Sections 1-23-110 through 1-23-120(a) and Section 1-23-130, to regulate access to the information in accordance with the provisions of this section.
(C) Regulations to govern access to information subject to subsections (A) and (B) must at a minimum provide for:
(1) disclosure of information to state, federal, and local authorities as required to carry out governmental functions; and
(2) disclosure of information to persons who live or work within a vulnerable zone.
For purposes of this section, "vulnerable zone" is defined as a circle, the center of which is within the boundaries of a facility possessing hazardous, toxic, flammable, radioactive, or infectious materials subject to this section, and the radius of which is that distance a hazardous, toxic, flammable, radioactive, or infectious cloud, overpressure, radiation, or radiant heat would travel before dissipating to the point it no longer threatens serious short-term harm to people or the environment.
Disclosure of information pursuant to this subsection must be by means that will prevent its removal or mechanical reproduction. Disclosure of information pursuant to this subsection must be made only after the custodian has ascertained the person's identity by viewing photo identification issued by a federal, state, or local government agency to the person and after the person has signed a register kept for the purpose.
HISTORY: 2002 Act No. 339, Section 30.
(A) Without limiting the meaning of other sections of this chapter, the following categories of information are specifically made public information subject to the restrictions and limitations of Sections 30-4-20, 30-4-40, and 30-4-70 of this chapter:
(1) the names, sex, race, title, and dates of employment of all employees and officers of public bodies;
(2) administrative staff manuals and instructions to staff that affect a member of the public;
(3) final opinions, including concurring and dissenting opinions, as well as orders, made in the adjudication of cases;
(4) those statements of policy and interpretations of policy, statute, and the Constitution which have been adopted by the public body;
(5) written planning policies and goals and final planning decisions;
(6) information in or taken from any account, voucher, or contract dealing with the receipt or expenditure of public or other funds by public bodies;
(7) the minutes of all proceedings of all public bodies and all votes at such proceedings, with the exception of all such minutes and votes taken at meetings closed to the public pursuant to Section 30-4-70;
(8) reports which disclose the nature, substance, and location of any crime or alleged crime reported as having been committed. Where a report contains information exempt as otherwise provided by law, the law enforcement agency may delete that information from the report;
(9) notwithstanding any other provision of the law, data from a video or audio recording made by a law enforcement vehicle-mounted recording device or dashboard camera that involves an officer involved incident resulting in death, injury, property damage, or the use of deadly force.
(a) A law enforcement or public safety agency may apply to the circuit court for an order to prevent the disclosure of the video or audio recording data. Notice of the request and of the hearing must be provided to the person seeking the record. A hearing must be requested within fifteen days (excepting Saturdays, Sundays, and legal public holidays) of the receipt of the request for disclosure and the hearing shall be held in-camera.
(b) The court may order the recording data not be disclosed upon a showing by clear and convincing evidence that the recording is exempt from disclosure as specified in Section 30-4-40(a)(3) and that the reason for the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure. A court may order the recording data be edited to redact specific portions of the data and then released, upon a showing by clear and convincing evidence that portions of the recording are not exempt from disclosure as specified in Section 30-4-40(a)(3).
(c) A court order to withhold the release of recording data under this section must specify a definite time period for the withholding of the release of the recording data and must include the court's findings.
(d) A copy of the order shall be made available to the person requesting the release of the recording data.
(10) statistical and other empirical findings considered by the Legislative Audit Council in the development of an audit report.
(B) No information contained in a police incident report or in an employee salary schedule revealed in response to a request pursuant to this chapter may be utilized for commercial solicitation. Also, the home addresses and home telephone numbers of employees and officers of public bodies revealed in response to a request pursuant to this chapter may not be utilized for commercial solicitation. However, this provision must not be interpreted to restrict access by the public and press to information contained in public records.
HISTORY: 1978 Act No. 593, Section 6; 1982 Act No. 370, Section 1; 1992 Act No. 269, Section 1; 1993 Act No. 44, Section 1; 1998 Act No. 423, Section 7; 2017 Act No. 67 (H.3352), Section 3, eff May 19, 2017.
Effect of Amendment
2017 Act No. 67, Section 3, inserted (A)(9), providing for the inclusion of law enforcement vehicle-mounted videos and audio recordings of certain incidents involving law enforcement officers as a category of information made public, providing procedures through which enforcement may seek exemption of disclosure of the recordings, and providing requirements for related court orders, and redesignated (A)(9) as (A)(10).
A public body as defined by Section 30-4-20(a), or a person or entity employed by or authorized to act for or on behalf of a public body, that undertakes to attract business or industry to invest or locate in South Carolina by offering incentives that require the expenditure of public funds or the transfer of anything of value or that reduce the rate or alter the method of taxation of the business or industry or that otherwise impact the offeror fiscally, must disclose, upon request, the fiscal impact of the offer on the public body and a governmental entity affected by the offer after:
(a) the offered incentive or expenditure is accepted, and
(b) the project has been publicly announced or any incentive agreement has been finalized, whichever occurs later.
The fiscal impact disclosure must include a cost-benefit analysis that compares the anticipated public cost of the commitments with the anticipated public benefits. Notwithstanding the requirements of this section, information that is otherwise exempt from disclosure under Section 30-4-40(a)(1), (a)(5)(c), and (a)(9) remains exempt from disclosure.
HISTORY: 2003 Act No. 86, Section 3.
Every meeting of all public bodies shall be open to the public unless closed pursuant to Section 30-4-70 of this chapter.
HISTORY: 1978 Act No. 593, Section 7.
(A) The Governor's cabinet meetings are subject to the provisions of this chapter only when the Governor's cabinet is convened to discuss or act upon a matter over which the Governor has granted to the cabinet, by executive order, supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power.
(B) For purposes of this chapter, "cabinet" means the directors of the departments of the executive branch of state government appointed by the Governor pursuant to the provisions of Section 1-30-10(B)(1)(i) when they meet as a group and a quorum is present.
HISTORY: 2003 Act No. 86, Section 6.
(a) A public body may hold a meeting closed to the public for one or more of the following reasons:
(1) Discussion of employment, appointment, compensation, promotion, demotion, discipline, or release of an employee, a student, or a person regulated by a public body or the appointment of a person to a public body; however, if an adversary hearing involving the employee or client is held, the employee or client has the right to demand that the hearing be conducted publicly. Nothing contained in this item shall prevent the public body, in its discretion, from deleting the names of the other employees or clients whose records are submitted for use at the hearing.
(2) Discussion of negotiations incident to proposed contractual arrangements and proposed sale or purchase of property, the receipt of legal advice where the legal advice relates to a pending, threatened, or potential claim or other matters covered by the attorney-client privilege, settlement of legal claims, or the position of the public agency in other adversary situations involving the assertion against the agency of a claim.
(3) Discussion regarding the development of security personnel or devices.
(4) Investigative proceedings regarding allegations of criminal misconduct.
(5) Discussion of matters relating to the proposed location, expansion, or the provision of services encouraging location or expansion of industries or other businesses in the area served by the public body.
(6) The Retirement System Investment Commission, if the meeting is in executive session specifically pursuant to Section 9-16-80(A) or 9-16-320(C).
(b) Before going into executive session the public agency shall vote in public on the question and when the vote is favorable, the presiding officer shall announce the specific purpose of the executive session. As used in this subsection, "specific purpose" means a description of the matter to be discussed as identified in items (1) through (5) of subsection (a) of this section. However, when the executive session is held pursuant to Sections 30-4-70(a)(1) or 30-4-70(a)(5), the identity of the individual or entity being discussed is not required to be disclosed to satisfy the requirement that the specific purpose of the executive session be stated. No action may be taken in executive session except to (a) adjourn or (b) return to public session. The members of a public body may not commit the public body to a course of action by a polling of members in executive session.
(c) No chance meeting, social meeting, or electronic communication may be used in circumvention of the spirit of requirements of this chapter to act upon a matter over which the public body has supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power.
(d) This chapter does not prohibit the removal of any person who wilfully disrupts a meeting to the extent that orderly conduct of the meeting is seriously compromised.
(e) Sessions of the General Assembly may enter into executive sessions authorized by the Constitution of this State and rules adopted pursuant thereto.
(f) The Board of Trustees of the respective institution of higher learning, while meeting as the trustee of its endowment funds, if the meeting is in executive session specifically pursuant to Sections 59-153-80(A) or 59-153-320(C).
HISTORY: 1978 Act No. 593, Section 8; 1987 Act No. 118, Section 6; 1998 Act No. 371, Section 7B; 1998 Act No. 423, Section 8; 1999 Act No. 122, Section 4; 2005 Act No. 153, Pt IV, Section 5.
(A) All public bodies, except as provided in subsections (B) and (C) of this section, must give written public notice of their regular meetings at the beginning of each calendar year. The notice must include the dates, times, and places of such meetings. An agenda for regularly scheduled or special meetings must be posted on a bulletin board in a publicly accessible place at the office or meeting place of the public body and on a public website maintained by the body, if any, at least twenty-four hours prior to such meetings. All public bodies must post on such bulletin board or website, if any, public notice for any called, special, or rescheduled meetings. Such notice must include the agenda, date, time, and place of the meeting, and must be posted as early as is practicable but not later than twenty-four hours before the meeting. This requirement does not apply to emergency meetings of public bodies. Once an agenda for a regular, called, special, or rescheduled meeting is posted pursuant to this subsection, no items may be added to the agenda without an additional twenty-four hours notice to the public, which must be made in the same manner as the original posting. After the meeting begins, an item upon which action can be taken only may be added to the agenda by a two-thirds vote of the members present and voting; however, if the item is one upon which final action can be taken at the meeting or if the item is one in which there has not been and will not be an opportunity for public comment with prior public notice given in accordance with this section, it only may be added to the agenda by a two-thirds vote of the members present and voting and upon a finding by the body that an emergency or an exigent circumstance exists if the item is not added to the agenda. Nothing herein relieves a public body of any notice requirement with regard to any statutorily required public hearing.
(B) Legislative committees must post their meeting times during weeks of the regular session of the General Assembly and must comply with the provisions for notice of special meetings during those weeks when the General Assembly is not in session. Subcommittees of standing legislative committees must give notice during weeks of the legislative session only if it is practicable to do so.
(C) Subcommittees, other than legislative subcommittees, of committees required to give notice under subsection (A), must make reasonable and timely efforts to give notice of their meetings.
(D) Written public notice must include but need not be limited to posting a copy of the notice at the principal office of the public body holding the meeting or, if no such office exists, at the building in which the meeting is to be held.
(E) All public bodies shall notify persons or organizations, local news media, or such other news media as may request notification of the times, dates, places, and agenda of all public meetings, whether scheduled, rescheduled, or called, and the efforts made to comply with this requirement must be noted in the minutes of the meetings.
HISTORY: 1978 Act No. 593, Section 9; 1987 Act No. 118, Section 7; 2015 Act No. 70 (S.11), Section 1, eff June 8, 2015.
Effect of Amendment
2015 Act No. 70, Section 1, changed the paragraph designators to upper case; in (A), substituted "An agenda for regularly scheduled or special meetings" for "Agenda, if any, for regularly scheduled meetings" in the third sentence, added references to websites, and added the text beginning with "Once an agenda for a regular .."; and made other nonsubstantive changes.
(a) All public bodies shall keep written minutes of all of their public meetings. Such minutes shall include but need not be limited to:
(1) The date, time and place of the meeting.
(2) The members of the public body recorded as either present or absent.
(3) The substance of all matters proposed, discussed or decided and, at the request of any member, a record, by an individual member, of any votes taken.
(4) Any other information that any member of the public body requests be included or reflected in the minutes.
(b) The minutes shall be public records and shall be available within a reasonable time after the meeting except where such disclosures would be inconsistent with Section 30-4-70 of this chapter.
(c) All or any part of a meeting of a public body may be recorded by any person in attendance by means of a tape recorder or any other means of sonic or video reproduction, except when a meeting is closed pursuant to Section 30-4-70 of this chapter, provided that in so recording there is no active interference with the conduct of the meeting. Provided, further, that the public body is not required to furnish recording facilities or equipment.
HISTORY: 1978 Act No. 593, Section 10; 2001 Act No. 13, Section 1.
(A) A citizen of the State may apply to the circuit court for a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, or both, to enforce the provisions of this chapter in appropriate cases if the application is made no later than one year after the date of the alleged violation or one year after a public vote in public session, whichever comes later. Upon the filing of the request for declaratory judgment or injunctive relief related to provisions of this chapter, the chief administrative judge of the circuit court must schedule an initial hearing within ten days of the service on all parties. If the hearing court is unable to make a final ruling at the initial hearing, the court shall establish a scheduling order to conclude actions brought pursuant to this chapter within six months of initial filing. The court may extend this time period upon a showing of good cause. The court may order equitable relief as it considers appropriate, and a violation of this chapter must be considered to be an irreparable injury for which no adequate remedy at law exists.
(B) If a person or entity seeking relief under this section prevails, he may be awarded reasonable attorney's fees and other costs of litigation specific to the request. If the person or entity prevails in part, the court may in its discretion award him reasonable attorney's fees or an appropriate portion of those attorney's fees.
HISTORY: 1978 Act No. 593, Section 11; 1987 Act No. 118, Section 8; 2017 Act No. 67 (H.3352), Section 4, eff May 19, 2017.
Effect of Amendment
2017 Act No. 67, Section 4, amended the section, providing time constraints within which determinative hearings on the requests for relief must be made.
(A) A public body may file a request for hearing with the circuit court to seek relief from unduly burdensome, overly broad, vague, repetitive, or otherwise improper requests, or where it has received a request but it is unable to make a good faith determination as to whether the information is exempt from disclosure.
(B) If a request for disclosure may result in the release of records or information exempt from disclosure under Section 30-4-40(a)(1), (2), (4), (5), (9), (14), (15), or (19), a person or entity with a specific interest in the underlying records or information shall have the right to request a hearing with the court or to intervene in an action previously filed.
(C) If a person or entity seeking relief under this section prevails, the court may order:
(1) equitable relief as he considers appropriate;
(2) actual or compensatory damages; or
(3) reasonable attorney's fees and other costs of litigation specific to the request, unless there is a finding of good faith. The finding of good faith is a bar to the award of attorney's fees and costs.
(D) If a court determines that records are not subject to disclosure, the determination constitutes a finding of good faith on the part of the public body or public official, and acts as a complete bar against the award of attorney's fees or other costs to the prevailing party should the court's determination be reversed on appeal.
(E) If the person or entity prevails in part, he may be awarded reasonable attorney's fees or other costs of litigation specific to the request, or an appropriate portion thereof, unless otherwise barred.
(F) If the court finds that the public body has arbitrarily and capriciously violated the provisions of this chapter by refusal or delay in disclosing or providing copies of a public record, it may, in addition to actual or compensatory damages or equitable relief, impose a civil fine of five hundred dollars.
HISTORY: 1978 Act No. 593, Section 12; 2017 Act No. 67 (H.3352), Section 5, eff May 19, 2017.
Effect of Amendment
2017 Act No. 67, Section 5, rewrote the section, removing criminal penalties, and providing rights and remedies of public bodies from whom requests are made and persons with specific interests in exempt information for which disclosure is sought.
(A) This chapter does not allow the Department of Motor Vehicles to sell, provide, or otherwise furnish to a private party Social Security numbers in its records, copies of photographs, or signatures, whether digitized or not, taken for the purpose of a driver's license or personal identification card.
(B) Photographs, signatures, and digitized images from a driver's license or personal identification card are not public records.
HISTORY: 1999 Act No. 100, Part II, Section 53.
(A) The Department of Motor Vehicles may not sell, provide, or furnish to a private party a person's height, weight, race, social security number, photograph, or signature in any form that has been compiled for the purpose of issuing the person a driver's license or special identification card. The department shall not release to a private party any part of the record of a person under fifteen years of age who has applied for or has been issued a special identification card.
(B) A person's height, weight, race, photograph, signature, and digitized image contained in his driver's license or special identification card record are not public records.
(C) Notwithstanding another provision of law, a private person or private entity shall not use an electronically-stored version of a person's photograph, social security number, height, weight, race, or signature for any purpose, when the electronically-stored information was obtained from a driver's license record.
HISTORY: 1999 Act No. 33, Section 1.
Definitions. (A)(1) A person has a right to inspect, copy, or receive an electronic transmission of any public record of a public body, except as otherwise provided by Section 30-4-40, or other state and federal laws, in accordance with reasonable rules concerning time and place of access.What is Section 30 4 40 of the SC Code of Laws? ›
The “otherwise exempt” exemption: S.C.
§ 30-4-40(a)(4) provides that matters that are specifically exempt from disclosure by statute or law are also exempt from disclosure under FOIA. Sometimes these other statutory provisions will specifically state that information is exempt from disclosure under FOIA.
SECTION 30-4-70. Meetings which may be closed; procedure; circumvention of chapter; disruption of meeting; executive sessions of General Assembly.What is the statute of limitations on a misdemeanor in South Carolina? ›
However, unlike most other states, South Carolina has no statute of limitations for criminal cases.What is the SC Code of Laws move over law? ›
“Move Over” Law or “Emergency Scenes” Law in SC
In 2002, a South Carolina law was implemented that requires all drivers to move over to the non-adjacent lane when passing emergency vehicles that are stopped on the side of the road with emergency lights on, or slow down if moving over is not an option.
- the chapter number;
- the section number; and.
- the year of the main volume (if the current regulation appears in the main volume), or the year of the supplement (if the current regulation appears in the supplement).
SECTION 41-10-30. Notification to employees of wages and hours agreed upon; recordkeeping requirements; requirement of itemized statement of gross pay and deductions for each pay period.What is South Carolina Code Section 30 2 50? ›
Section 30-2-50 of the South Carolina Family Privacy Protection Act prohibits persons or private entities from obtaining or using any personal information obtained from the Department for commercial solicitation.What is Section 33 1 103 of the S.C. Code of Laws? ›
SECTION 33-1-103. Designation of representation in magistrates' court; unauthorized practice of law. A corporation or partnership, as defined in this section, may designate an employee or principal of the corporation or partnership to represent it in magistrates' court.What is SC Code 30 1 90? ›
SECTION 30-1-90. Archives shall assist in creating, filing and preserving records; inventories and schedules.
A return address must be provided on each conveyance, mortgage, judgment, lien, contract, or other document submitted for filing with the clerk of court or register of deeds. A document may be refused for filing if it lacks a complete return address.
Code Ann. § 41-35-120(2)(b). “Substandard performance due to inefficiency, inability, or incapacity,” is "a claimant's failure to perform to the satisfaction of the employer where such failure was beyond the claimant's control, had no harmful intent or was a good faith error in judgment or discretion." S.C. Code Ann.What crimes have no statute of limitations in South Carolina? ›
Under South Carolina law, there is no statute of limitations for any crime. There is no criminal statute of limitations in South Carolina. A case for any felony can be started at any time. A case for any misdemeanor can be started at any time.What is the maximum jail time for most misdemeanors? ›
Standard misdemeanors carry up to six months in and/or up to $1,000 in fines. Gross or aggravated misdemeanors carry up to 364 days in jail and/or up to $1,000. Most defendants facing misdemeanor charges are eligible for probation.How long do you have to sue someone in SC? ›
In most cases, you have 3 years to file suit against a non-governmental defendant. Please note that you only have 2 years to file a suit against a governmental defendant such as a county hospital, local police department, or government official.What is Section 41 10 30 of the SC Code of Laws 1976? ›
SECTION 41-10-30. Notification to employees of wages and hours agreed upon; recordkeeping requirements; requirement of itemized statement of gross pay and deductions for each pay period.Is South Carolina a no title state? ›
It shall be unlawful for any person to sell or offer for sale or mortgage in this State any vehicle of a type required to be registered and licensed in this State, or any mobile home, unless a certificate of title has been issued therefor and is currently valid; but this provision shall not apply to South Carolina ...What is Section 29 3 50 of the Code of Laws of South Carolina? ›
(A) Any mortgage or other instrument conveying an interest in or creating a lien on any real estate, securing existing indebtedness or future advances to be made, regardless of whether the advances are to be made at the option of the lender, are valid from the day and hour when recorded so as to affect the rights of ...What is 12 37 250 of the SC Code of Laws? ›
Article X, §3, of the South Carolina Constitution and South Carolina Code §12-37-250 provide a homestead exemption from property taxes of $50,000 of the fair market value of the dwelling place of certain individuals. The term “dwelling place” means the permanent home and legal residence of the applicant.