Legislature not forthright by closing access to meetings

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    The last few months have been a frenzy of political activity.

    Two long months of transitioning toward the immaculate inauguration have left many out of political breath, so to speak.

    And just when there seemed to be a lull in the festivities, the Texas Legislature began their biennial session last week with plenty on the agenda.

    Some of that agenda will be discussed behind closed doors after one of the first orders of business was to approve House Resolution 3, a parameter-setting bill that exempted House caucus meetings of the 81st Legislature from the Texas Open Meetings Act.

    The act ensures that all governmental meetings are open to the public, whether through physical attendance or access to the recorded minutes.

    Given the recent economic mess and bailouts flying through Congress, this talk of closed doors is rightfully raising a few eyebrows.

    The public has a right to know what its legislators are discussing and openness is at the core of a healthy democracy.

    Of course there are some exceptions to this rule, but the general principle is that the public put the politicians in power and naturally their responsibility should be to the people.

    It is no secret that secrets can destroy.

    The Texas Open Meeting Act allows for 14 topics that are exceptions to the open-door policy due to their nature. But HR 3 is an exemption, and under this exemption any meeting of the Legislature can be made private.

    In times of uncertainty, the answer is honesty and accountability, not secrets and closed doors.

    No doubt the Legislature will be talking about the budget, and they owe it to the people to be responsible and up-front about how the money will be spent, especially in the current economy.

    It all boils down to accountability. And closed doors are not the greatest ambassadors.

    So by all means, let the frenzy continue – just keep the doors open.