Sunshine Week, March 10-16 this year, is a time that news gatherers take annually to focus on successes and assaults on the laws governing the right to know what public officials are doing, and how they are spending tax money.
The weeklong observance sharpens the focus of reporters and editors of their job to keep the public informed, and is a reminder that there are those in government who would prefer to make decisions out of public view.
In Texas, laws on what information is open to the public is spelled out in the Open Meetings Act passed by the Texas Legislature in 1971 and the Public Information Act passed in 1973.
The Open Meetings Act spells out how public meetings are to be conducted. Meetings of governmental boards and commissions are open for the public to attend, with votes taken in the open by officeholders. There are a few narrow exceptions, though, to the openness requirement; if discussions deal with an individual employee, are with the body’s attorney, or involve a real estate transaction.
By Joe Reavis • Staff Writer • [email protected]
For the complete story see the March 14 edition or subscribe online.