PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The General Assembly complied with the state Open Meetings law better than 90 percent of the time last year, according to data released today by the Secretary of State's office.
House compliance went from 93 percent in 2009 to 94 percent in 2010. Senate compliance held steady at 90 percent. Like previous years, nearly all the violations occurred in the last days of the session.
The Open Meetings law requires most governmental bodies to post meeting notices and agendas at least 48 hours in advance. While the General Assembly is exempt from the law, the House and the Senate do issue meeting notices in accordance with their own rules. The Secretary of State's office monitored that activity in order to produce today's "Access 2010" report.
“Accountability is crucial in measuring government’s willingness to keeping the public informed about its work,” said Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis, who posted the full report on his website.
Twenty-eight of the legislature's 31 Open Meetings violations occurred during the six days before the General Assembly recessed on June 10, 2010.
"The General Assembly's ability to provide adequate notice drops in response to the volume of legislation and the compressed timeframe for debate in the closing days of the session," said Mollis.
"I am ready to work with the legislature and other stakeholders to craft a solution to the log jam that makes it so difficult to maintain their commitment to openness in the final days," he said.
Overall, some of the most prominent committees, such as those that oversee the state budget and business regulation, gave the public at least 48 hours advance notice of their meetings better than 90 percent of the time in 2010.
House Finance went from 98 percent in 2009 to 96 percent last year, while its Senate counterpart held steady at 93 percent. Senate Corporations went from 85 percent in 2009 to 92 percent last year, while its House counterpart rose from 80 percent in 100 percent in 2010.
While the General Assembly is exempt from the Open Meetings law, the House and the Senate do issue meeting notices in accordance with their own rules.
Mollis posts the legislative meeting notices and agendas on his website along with a searchable database of notices for most other state and municipal agencies, committees, councils and departments.
Secretary of State Mollis is committed to making it easier for Rhode Islanders to vote, helping businesses grow and making government more open and accessible. For more information about the programs and services the Secretary of State's office offers Rhode Islanders, visit sos.ri.gov
Media Contact: Chris Barnett at 222-4293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.