published Friday, March 8th, 2013

Renewed bid would dilute Tennessee open meetings law

NASHVILLE — An effort has been renewed to weaken the law that prevents Tennessee government officials from conducting public business in private.

Williamson County Commissioner Bob Barnwell has written to officials across Tennessee to urge state lawmakers to pass a bill to allow private meetings among local government officials as long as a quorum isn’t present.

Current law forbids members of a local legislative body from meeting privately to deliberate on public business. It does not ban officials from speaking to each other during chance encounters or from other conversations.

Gov. Bill Haslam and the speakers of the House and Senate expressed reservations about a similar proposal last year, and the bill was withdrawn early in the session.

Barnwell, who spearheaded the effort last year, didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.

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