Friday, August 21, 2020

Ark. papers honor legislator who sponsored law requiring governing bodies to record their meetings, keep recordings

Arkansas Rep. Vivian Flowers
The Arkansas Press Association is giving its Freedom of Information Award to the legislator who sponsored a law requiring governing bodies to make audio recordings of all their meetings and keep them for a year. The legislation "is one of few substantive improvements" to the state open-records law in an era when "legislators most often have tried to claw back transparency provisions in the bill, APA reports.

"Flowers filed the bill . . . after a constituent raised concerns to her about inaccuracies in the meeting minutes of one local governmental entity," APA reports, noting that minutes "may describe in a few words what government leaders took two hours to debate, not to mention that sometimes important comments get cut from minutes entirely, Flowers said."

Flowers introduced the measure during the final days of the 2019 session, but it got 18 co-sponsors, including “both arch conservatives and arch liberals,” Flowers noted. She said the bill would be of particular help to journalists who are unable to attend meetings.

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