The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

January 16, 2014

New bill designed to strengthen open meetings law

— MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Two Republican legislators have the backing of Gov. Robert Bentley in pursuing a bill to strengthen Alabama's open meetings law.

The bill introduced by Rep. Mike Hill of Columbiana and Sen. Cam Ward of Alabaster says Alabama's Open Meetings Act applies to the Legislature, legislative committees, and committees and subcommittees of governmental bodies that exchange information among a quorum of members.

Ward said Thursday the bill is in response to recent Alabama Supreme Court decisions that tore government transparency to shreds. One ruling said there is no requirement for the Legislature to hold open meetings. Another allowed some committees and subcommittees of government bodies to meet in private.

The bill was developed with the support of the Alabama Press Association.

Bentley said he's optimistic about its chances of passing.

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