TN: House caucus chairman defends closed-door meetings, discusses future

House Republican Caucus Chairman Ryan Williams defended a recent decision to hold a closed-door caucus meeting while outlining the procedure that could be used in the future, in a Wednesday meeting with members of the Capitol Hill press corps.

Defending last week's decision, Williams, R-Cookeville, said he has every intention of giving the press every opportunity to be in the meetings but added, "I do believe there is a time and a place where we have to have the ability to communicate personally with one another."


Sullivan negotiations with teacher groups held without notice, behind closed doors

From Kingsport Times News: BLOUNTVILLE — Collaborative conferencing negotiations among the Sullivan County school system and two teacher groups were held behind closed doors with no public notice last month.

Two groups say that violates Tennessee’s open meetings law, called the “Sunshine Law,” although Director of Schools Jubal Yennie said the public does not have the explicit right to be present for collaborative conferencing.


Frank Gibson: Tennessee ‘sunshine’ dimmed by one watchdog’s assessment

Opinion from Frank Gibson via The Leaf Chronicle:  It will not come as news to anyone that Tennessee’s public meetings and open records laws fall in the lower ranks when compared to the open government laws of the other 49 states.

Now a new study by the Better Government Association that claims Tennessee’s separate government conflict of interest and whistleblower protection laws rank higher than our “sunshine” and public records (Freedom of Information) statutes.


NFOIC’s State FOIA Friday for August 31, 2012: Open government news from the states

A few state FOIA and local open government news items selected from many of interest that we might or might not have drawn attention to earlier in the week:

Know Your Rights: Open Records in Rhode Island

What is APRA?: The Access to Public Records Act, or APRA, is the Rhode Island state law that gives individuals the right to see and obtain public records. The law provides guidelines for obtaining access to these records, and also defines which records are subject to public inspection and which are exempt.


Knox County (Tn.) Commission against plan to weaken open meetings law

From Knoxville News Sentinel:

Knox County commissioners have unanimously signed off on a resolution to notify local legislators they oppose any changes to Tennessee's Open Meetings Act.

"I think it's something we need to do, based on past history," commission Chairman Mike Hammond said, referring to Black Wednesday when commissioners in January 2007 cut deals to replace some elected officials with friends, family and cronies.