If you value open government, the closest call of last night, in the final hour of the legislative session, was a paragraph attached to HB 875, a bill to keep private the personal information on hunting and fishing licenses and such.
But this paragraph applied to political figures subject to investigation by the agency formally known as the State Ethics Commission:
…In the discretion of the commission, to seal any records of the commission relating to a concluded investigation of an alleged or suspected violation if that investigation resulted in a determination by the commission either that no violation occurred or that only a technical defect in a filing occurred in accordance with Code Section 21-5-7.1. Any records so sealed shall not be open to public inspection….
There was also language added to allow the commission to waive late fees and fines.
In other words, the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission would have been handed permission to cut off from public view the more pesky complaints against your leaders. Cases that it would decide you didn’t need to know about.
State Rep. David Knight, R-Griffin, introduced the conference report in the House, but didn’t mention the above paragraph. That came to light under questioning from state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Atlanta, and other Democrats.
My AJC colleague Chris Quinn described a scene in which the tally board started out with green “yes” votes and red “no” votes evenly divided. But slowly, green lights began blinking out, and the red votes began to grow. At 11:08, the bill was defeated 25-143.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider