Budget bill would expand terrorism exemption 

The Senate's amendments to the House's budget bill include a significant expansion of the exemption to the public records law that is often referred to as the "terrorism exemption." 

While House Bill 97 was being debated in the Senate, it picked up an amendment that would create a major expansion of the “sensitive security information” exemption to the N.C. Public Records Law. N.C. G.S. 132-1.7 is often called the “terrorism exemption” because it was first added to the records law in the wake of September 11, 2001 and it specifically mentions government response to terrorist activity. 

The exemption as currently written exempts “specific details of public security plans and arrangements or the detailed plans and drawings of public buildings and infrastructure facilities.” The Senate’s budget proposal would rewrite that exemption to include “infrastructure facilities or plans, schedules, or other documents that include information regarding patterns or practices associated with executive protection and security,” effectively adding the personal schedules of agency heads who have security details, such as the governor, to the exemption list. 

The bill also adds new exemptions under the sensitive security information section for “specific security 11 information or detailed plans, patterns, or practices associated with prison operations” and for “specific security information or detailed plans, patterns, or practices to prevent or respond to criminal, gang, or organized illegal activity.” Much of the information that would be covered by the latter is also likely to fall under the exemption for criminal investigations and criminal intelligence.