Editorial: "Wide Open"

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Good, bad or indifferent, when people know others are watching they tend to operate a little differently; more often than not, differently in a positive way.  Government is certainly an area where transparency is good thing and Senator Cam Ward and Representative Mike Hill are trying to provide for even more. These lawmakers have sponsored new legislation designed to strengthen Alabama's Open Meeting Act, passed originally in 2005.

In recent years, the Alabama Supreme Court has ruled on separate occasions that there is no requirement for the Legislature to hold open meetings and some committees and subcommittees of government bodies can meet in private.   Senator Ward and Representative Hill want that to change and have sponsored a bill that will provide for the following:

Meetings in small groups without proper notice to discuss issues that will come before the full body is not permitted

Any citizen has a right to bring an action against any governmental body they think has violated the law and that any penalties assessed are payable to the plaintiff

Lastly, that the Alabama Constitution requires the meetings of the Legislature be open to the public unless there is a public vote that secrecy is required in some circumstances

We support this and any bill that allows Alabamians to participate in viewing and reviewing of official government business.  And as Governor Bentley so well stated, especially when an entity is supported by taxpayer dollars.

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