Open Records Committee to make recommendations Thursday

The Open Records Ad Hoc Committee will meet on Thursday for discussion and recommendations regarding the growing number of exemptions to the public records laws that allow government entities to keep some records secret.

The committee has met three times, beginning in August, after being formed by Senate Speaker Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, and then-House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, who wanted an examination of exemptions that may need to be removed or placed in a sunset review process.

The committee’s chairmen are Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, and Rep. Jason Zachary, R-Knoxville.

The other committee members are:

The meeting will be in the Cordell Hull Building, House Hearing Room III.

Several people have provided public comments to the committee, including members of Tennessee Coalition for Open Government.

TCOG has advocated for a sunset review of all existing exemptions and new exemptions, as well as a new process for adopting exemptions that makes clear the public necessity and aims to make exemptions no broader than necessary to achieve that aim. Read TCOG’s recommendations for structural changes aimed at better defining and reining in overly broad or vague exemptions.

TCOG also provided to the committee a short list of exemptions that needed immediate attention, although the organization has continued to call for some systematic review of exemptions, such as over a five-year period.




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