In its most general terms the Wisconsin Public Records Law [Wis. Stat. §§ 19.31-19.39] provides that a requester may inspect and/or receive a copy of any record that is not specifically excepted by some provision of state or federal law.
Wisconsin favors broad access to records and the law states:
All persons are entitled to the greatest possible information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those officers and employees who represent them. Providing such information is an essential function of a representative government and an integral part of the routine duties of state employees.
The public records law does have some exceptions and other laws also require that certain of records remain confidential, such as:
- Employee home address and personal email address, home telephone number, and social security number of an employee.
- Student records and personally identifiable information contained in student records.
- Information used for staff management planning, including performance evaluations, judgments, or recommendations concerning future salary adjustments or other wage treatments, management bonus plans, promotions, job assignments, letters of reference, or other comments or ratings relating to employees.
The public records law does not require authorities to provide requested information if no responsive record exists, and does not require authorities to create new records in order to fulfill public records requests.