Among the ideas Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood is promoting in his campaign for governor is making the Legislature subject to the state’s Public Records Act.
That’s a great idea.
Problem is getting lawmakers to welcome sunshine on themselves.
They tend to believe in transparency — most of the time — for local governments, state agencies and other branches of state government. When it comes to themselves, however, they aren’t so keen on the concept. That’s why, when they passed the Open Records Act in 1983, they exempted themselves from its requirements.
The argument they make then and still make today is that lawmakers are able to communicate more freely with each other and with their constituents if they know no one will be able to look at what they wrote.
There’s not a public body, however, in this state that could not make the same argument.
The reason that legislative records should be as accessible as anyone else’s is this: Openness cuts down on the mischief by letting the public know what’s really going on.