Senate bill would allow spaceport to shield companies’ records

Lawmakers are proposing to create a carve-out in the state’s open-records law for Spaceport America that would allow it to keep secret any information about companies or government agencies blasting rockets from the Southern New Mexico site.

The Spaceport Authority, which runs the $220 million public facility, has pushed in recent years to exempt part of its work from the Inspection of Public Records Act, arguing it needs to ensure at least some measure of confidentiality to high-tech aerospace companies that might be interested in doing business at the center near Truth or Consequences.

Though boosters have pointed to the spaceport as a potential economic driver for the southern end of the state, its high cost has drawn criticism and raised concerns about proposals to shield information about its work or finances from the public.

Transparency advocates argue that as long as taxpayers own the spaceport — and are still paying off its construction — the facility’s records should remain open to the public. And the facility is already facing scrutiny for its handling of public records requests from journalists. Read more…