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NC Democrats Propose State Constitutional Amendment Expanding Public Records Access

Source: NC Newsline

Earlier this month, Democrats in the North Carolina General Assembly introduced House Bill 1075 and Senate Bill 911 that would amend the state constitution to guarantee the right to access public records and meetings. The proposal is a direct challenge to a provision Republican lawmakers added to last year’s state budget that allows them to hide legislative records from public scrutiny.

While North Carolina law used to allow broad public access to government documents, including emails and officials’ calendars, Republican legislators changed the rules last year, meaning that legislators can now delete, destroy, or withhold any information they do not want the public to access.

“That rollback on public access to public records is the most significant rollback of public records by any state government in recent memory,” said Democratic Sen. Graig Meyer, a cosponsor of the Senate bill. 

Democratic Rep. Tim Longest, who is one of the cosponsors of the House bill, noted the importance of “shining the light of transparency.” “We allow everyday people to be more active and informed participants in our democracy,” he said.

With Republicans in control of both chambers of the state legislature, the measures are unlikely to be taken up, passed, or placed on the ballot for November’s elections. Nonetheless open government advocates lauded the bill.

“This commonsense legislation would help ensure the transparency needed for the public to hold public officials accountable,” said Ann Webb of Common Cause North Carolina. 

“We urge the legislature to pass this proposal and allow North Carolinians to vote on the amendment this fall,” she said.


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