Lawmakers look to close loopholes in transparency law

Senator Scott Wilk of the 21st district.

State Sen. Scott Wilk’s government transparency bill unanimously passed the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization Wednesday and now heads to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations, which will review the bill’s fiscal impact on the state.

Senate Bill 53 aims to increase transparency in government agencies by addressing a loophole in current open meeting laws, according to a news release from Wilk’s office. 

Current statute is ambiguous regarding the definition of what constitutes a state body and allows certain smaller committees and commissions to use this to their advantage and meet behind closed doors, but SB 53 would clarify that a committee of any size would have to comply with the state’s open meeting rules.

“Transparent government is good government,” Wilk said, explaining how SB 53 ensures that the state is held to the same transparency standards it demands of local government. “The current system has created wiggle room for smaller agencies and commissions to operate behind closed doors, which is contrary to the spirit of our transparency laws, (but) SB 53 will close that loophole.”

Wilk added, “This clarification in the law will ensure there are no more excuses for keeping the public in the dark. I want to thank my colleagues on the committee for their support, and I look forward to continuing this work throughout the process.”

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