North Carolina has an open meetings law guaranteeing that the public have access to the transparent workings of our public bodies — elected or appointed authorities, boards, commissions, councils, school administrative units and public corporations, among those.
Today, with limited access to public meetings, this protection has never been more important.
During periods of statewide emergency, such as that presented by COVID-19, NC’s public records and open meetings laws have been amended, allowing for livestream audio or video of virtual meetings.
But it is during times of statewide emergency, when the public has less access than is normal, that our elected and appointed officials must be held most accountable.
To cement that accountability in state law, an early bill in the N.C. House of Representatives, H.B. 111, would add public meeting and records law to our state’s constitution.
North Carolina would not be the first state to enshrine a Sunshine Amendment in its highest governmental document. During the past two decades, state legislatures and voters overwhelmingly passed such constitutional amendments in Florida and California.
At the Watauga Democrat, we support the public’s right to know at every level. In the past, both Senate Leader Phil Berger and Gov. Roy Cooper have individually supported this, too. Now, we encourage the N.C. Senate to take up a companion bill to correspond with the current House effort.
Constitutional amendments are matters of great importance — and so it is with this Sunshine Amendment. Voters deserve the right to vote for this public protection in November.