Two Tennessee Legislators Say They Want to Make Local Governments More Transparent

 

State Rep. William Lamberth (R-Portland) and State Sen. Mike Bell (R-Riceville) have put forward a bill that would make government entities provide more information to the public on upcoming government meetings.

According to the language of the bill, no later than January 1 of next year,  a governing body would have to make available to the public the agendas of upcoming meetings in a place accessible to the public for a period of at least three days prior to a meeting.

As the bill went on to say, the public must have access to these documents within this three-day timeframe assuming members of the governing body already have them.

“If supplemental meeting documents have not been created or provided to members of the governing body at least three days prior to the meeting, the supplemental meeting documents must be made publicly accessible as soon as possible upon creation, but prior to the meeting,” according to the bill.

According to the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government’s website, other items required for public access include the following:

• Contact information for elected officials and members of governing bodies

• Minutes from public meetings, going back at least 12 months

• The government entity’s comprehensive annual financial support and other annual financial reports and audits required of the government entity, going back five years

• The charter or other organizing or governing documents of the governmental entity and governing body

• Policies, rules, ordinances and resolutions governing public meetings, public hearings and public records

• Contact information for more information about public meetings, public hearings and public records.

If a government entity does not have a website, the government entity would be required to make the documents freely and promptly available at a place accessible to the public, the TCOG said.

“While the bill does not prohibit a government entity from adding items to their agenda during the meeting, it does require that the agenda describe specific matters to be discussed or deliberated,” according to the TCOG.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]

 

 

 

 

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