The citizens of Wyoming were the beneficiaries one week ago when the Wyoming Senate rejected a bill that would have limited government transparency.
By a 20-9 vote, Senate File 17, a bill sponsored by the Joint Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions Interim Committee, would have allowed cities, towns, counties and school districts to only place public notice information on their own websites.
Unfortunately, much of the discussions seemed focused on how the state’s newspapers would be impacted if those notices were moved online. The issue should never be about saving money, but how to best keep the public informed in a unbiased manner.
This week, March 14-20, is Sunshine Week, an initiative launched in 2005 by the News Leaders Association, to promote openness in government.
Whenever elected officials are reluctant to have their actions fully exposed to the public, a light needs to be shown on their actions. That is why this initiative is labeled “Sunshine.”
Lack of transparency always raises questions, “Is there something your elected officials don’t want you to know about? Is something untoward happening here?”
Transparency means those you elected to represent you are held accountable for their actions. Transparency means meetings that impact you are open to the public. Records, including meeting minutes, salaries, ordinances and more are readily available for your inspection.
That means you need to have available records kept in an unbiased method of how your elected officials voted.
In regards to Senate File 17, area Sens. R.J. Kost (R-Powell) and Ed Cooper (R-Ten Sleep) voted for more transparency in government by opposing the bill. Sen. Tim French (R-Powell) voted for the measure.
President Abraham Lincoln called our system “Government of the people, by the people, for the people.”
Last week, the people of Wyoming were assured the right for the time being to hold their elected officials accountable.