Majority of Lawmakers favor stronger Open Meetings Law

MONTGOMERY, Ala(AP)_. A majority of Alabama legislators responding to an Associated Press survey say they favor a bill that strengthens the state's 90-year-old Sunshine Law. That law requires government boards to open meetings to the public.

This latest bill is sponsored by Democratic Senator Zeb Little of Cullman and Republican Representative Blaine Galliher of Gadsden. It's a revised version of legislation that died in the Legislature last year partly because of opposition from county commissioners.

Association of County Commissioners spokesman Sonny Brasfield says the association does not plan to object to this year's bill. The bill provides clearer language defining a meeting and when a board can meet in executive session.

In the A-P survey, 60 percent of House members and 56 percent of senators responding said they expect to vote for the bill, while a number of lawmakers said they are undecided, mostly because they have not read the revised legislation.

Newspaper reporters and members of the public have long complained that public boards have used a provision allowing for closed-door meetings to discuss the good name and character of an individual to discuss job performance.

The new law allows for closed-door meetings to discuss job performance of non-managerial employees, but the performance of workers in management positions who are required to file state ethics forms would have to be discussed in public.

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