Sunday, March 13, 2005

Finally, something we all can agree on

Alabama legislators just voted unanimously for an excellent law.

No, I can't believe I just typed that sentence either, but it's true. The Alabama Senate on Thursday gave its final approval to a new Open Meetings Law that will penalize governmental bodies that fail to tell the public when and where they're meeting and will clarify the exceptions under which meetings can be taken behind closed doors. The push for the measure, which takes effect Oct. 1, gained new urgency after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that Auburn University trustees could close committee meetings as long as a majority of members did not attend.

Whereas the old law was, in the words of the former chairman of the University of Alabama's journalism department, "just a statement of policy that things ought to be open," the new law gives teeth to that policy by allowing citizens to sue officials for improperly closing their meetings and to force the offending officials to pay monetary penalties out of their own pockets.

The law will go a long way toward ensuring open government in a state where people historically have been rightly disgusted by their elected officials' proclivity to operate in secrecy. Kudos to everyone who assisted in this bill's passage.

1 Comments:

Anonymous the Free Voice said...

Somehow, I have the sudden urge to go roll Toomer's Corner.

3:53 PM  

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