Opinion: Who let the ‘rats’ in? – Journal Inquirer

By Chris Powell

While freedom of information prevailed with some big stuff during this year’s sessions of the General Assembly, legislators still snuck secrecy into bills here and there, and of course did it secretly as well.

At least two such incidents involved the budget “implementer” bill, which was passed in the legislature’s special session.

The “implementer” is supposed to do no more than implement decisions already made by budget legislation, whose provisions have faced public hearing and discussion. But the “implementer” often is used to enact policies that have received no scrutiny at all. Since legislators are given little time to review the “implementer” before a vote is called, unscrutinized provisions — in legislative jargon, “rats” — sometimes become law.

That was the case with an “implementer” provision to exempt the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority from the state Freedom of Information Act. Authority members said they didn’t want their communications with each other between meetings [Read More]