Transparency in government is vital to a healthy democracy. Wisconsin has a long tradition of openness with regard to public meetings and records, including what may be the nation’s first state records law, enacted in 1849.
What follows is a list of resources for citizens and government officials regarding open government in Wisconsin.
Also read our Be Your Own Watchdog page for tips on tracking the actions of people in power.
- The full text of the state’s Public Records Law. Tip: Search by key words like “fees,” “exempt,” “contractor,” etc.
- The full text of the state’s Open Meetings Law. Also key-word searchable.
- Public Records Compliance Outline produced by the office of the Wisconsin Attorney General, last updated in 2015. Contains links to referenced court rulings.
- Open Meetings Compliance Guide produced by the office of the Wisconsin Attorney General, last updated in 2015. Also has links to referenced rulings. The attorney general’s Office of Open Government has additional resources.
- Answers to frequently asked questions on the state’s Public Records and Open Meetings Laws as provided by the law firm of Godfrey & Kahn.
- Links to letters and opinions regarding public records and public meetings produced by the office of the Attorney General.
- Ten tips on “How to use the Open Records Law,” produced by the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council.
- A sample Open Records Request letter. Just fill in the blanks and send.
- A list of recurring Open Government Problem Areas, as identified by the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council.
- An archive of “Your Right to Know” columns on various open government topics, dating back to 2003, produced by the Freedom of Information Council. Click on list at left for prior years.
- Wisconsin Photographers Bill of Rights. Guidelines for where photography is allowed and where it is legally restricted.
- Rules on the use of cameras in state courtrooms, as prescribed by state law.
- Searchable guide of public notices published in state newspapers, maintained by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.
- Wisconsin Openness Report: Sign up to receive emails tracking articles regarding open records and meetings, as compiled by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.
- The Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council’s “Legislative Wish List” — ways to improve public access to meetings and records.