Ellis proposes change to state public records

Posted: Wednesday, February 03, 2010

JUNEAU - Senate Majority Leader Johnny Ellis has proposed a measure that would require public employee e-mails related to state business be sent on state-run systems.

The bill also would include e-mails and text and instant messages among a list of public records that should be preserved.

The measure filed Monday comes amid a legal dispute over e-mails sent during Gov. Sarah Palin's administration. Palin and others in state government often used private e-mail accounts, such as Yahoo, to conduct state business.

Her account was hacked when she was the vice presidential candidate, exposing the vulnerabilities of such a system.

A judge has since ruled there are no state laws prohibiting the use of private e-mail accounts.

When Gov. Sean Parnell succeeded Palin, he directed state employees to send any e-mails sent on private accounts back through the system so they would be archived. The directive also said state e-mail accounts should be used "whenever feasible."

Ellis, a Democrat from Anchorage, said Tuesday that he hadn't followed the Palin lawsuit - and that his proposal has nothing to do with personalities or politics.

Rather, he said it seemed "good public policy" to set in law definitions and protocols that wouldn't change with any administration's policy.

He said he's not sure what the prospects for the bill are in the current legislative session but that he felt the issue was at least worth discussing.

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