The League of Women Voters would like to comment on HB 109 Relating to the Sunshine Law.
This is a very difficult topic for both sides, the board members who want to relax the laws that make for greater transparency, and the public who want the spirit of the sunshine law recognized and respected.
In the annual tug of war – one side narrowing the boundaries of forbidden behavior, the other side trying to preserve the status quo --, the League is not unsympathetic with the concerns of those who would ease the laws and the rules. But unless the public is careful, we begin to see proposed laws such as the one introduced in 2008 that would have “permitted polling in writing, facsimile transmissions and e-mail communications regarding their individual positions on matters relating to offical board business provided that the documentation shall be a public record and shall be available within seven days after polling. The polling shall not constitute a vote.”
This bill, had it passed, would have made a mockery of our sunshine law. So very often, the backers of true sunshine,do have to hold the line tighter than would be necessary if everyone subscribed to the full meaning and spirit of the sunshine law.
Transgressions of the sunshine law are not always easily detected. But when the nature of a board's meetings is consistently short on debate and questioning, and overly efficient, one must suspect
that a great deal of private deliberations and the reaching of consensus had occurred.
We will not oppose the changes provided in this bill, but ask that all new boards get detailed training on the sunshine law, and that older boards given refresher courses on the need for transparency to enhance the credibility of the boards' work.
Thank you for this opportunity to address HB 109 Relating to the Sunshine Law.