Let the sun shine on state government

The American Press

In an era when people are becoming more skeptical of government in general, it is no time for lawmakers to be adding to the list of things they want hidden from the public.

On the contrary, the more sunshine we can have on government the better. Elected officials will never retain or regain the respect of the people by continuing to show distrust and contempt for the people they serve by exempting their actions from public view. Lawmakers in Baton Rouge are proposing a troubling list of public records exemptions that would reduce the right of the people to know what their own government is doing.

Scott Stenberg, a lawyer who represents the Louisiana Press Association, was recently quoted in The (Baton Rouge) Advocate as saying, “People need to know that closing records makes government less transparent and that makes government inherently worse.” 

Both Democrat and Republican lawmakers have reportedly filed more than a dozen exemptions to the public records laws to prevent people from knowing about sexual harassment allegations in government agencies, economic development negotiations for port projects, certain architectural licensing information, details about the state’s medical marijuana program and information about student code-of-conduct violations on public college campuses.

Rep. Mike Danahay, D-Sulphur, chairman of the House and Governmental Affairs Committee, told The Advocate that “an inordinate amount” of exemption measures have been filed. He noted that the increase can be attributed to privacy and security concerns raised by technological advancements and electronic record-keeping.

The most sweeping of all legislation filed in the session was by Sen. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, which would broadly exempt all documents or records involving allegations of sexual harassment or discrimination at public agencies. Gov. John Bel Edwards former chief of staff, Johnny Anderson, resigned in November amid sexual harassment allegations. We need more sunshine in government, not less. We need a government we can trust, not one that constantly betrays that trust.

This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the board, whose members are Crystal StevensonJohn GuidrozEmily Fontenot, retired editor Jim Beam and retired staff writer Mike Jones

The American Press welcomes letters to the editor. Here’s how to submit them. Email: news@americanpress.com. Mail: P.O. Box 2893, Lake Charles, LA 70602. Fax: 494-4070. Web: Submit your letter here.

      e4d583e6-3d9f-11e8-80f3-eb62f52d05222018-04-11T15:49:00ZPrep Softball | DeRidder vs SHHS””

      SHHS’s 00 slides in with the stolen base at 2nd as DeRidder’s SS #1 applies the tag during a non-district game at Sam Houston High School in Moss Bluff, La., Tuesday, April 10, 2018. (Rick Hickman/Lake Charles American Press)

      Rick HickmanRickHickmanPhotographer
      https://www.americanpress.com/content/tncms/avatars/6/d3/ea1/6d3ea1c8-3a6c-11e7-a1c2-0f91a5883b36.b31acdd1ef972ec0a2acb8ea5b28d153.png
      ””

      DeRidder C applies the tag as Sam Houston’s #11 slides in safely during a non-district game at Sam Houston High School in Moss Bluff, La., Tuesday, April 10, 2018. (Rick Hickman/Lake Charles American Press)

      Rick HickmanRickHickmanPhotographer
      https://www.americanpress.com/content/tncms/avatars/6/d3/ea1/6d3ea1c8-3a6c-11e7-a1c2-0f91a5883b36.b31acdd1ef972ec0a2acb8ea5b28d153.png
      ””

      DeRidder starting pitcher #3 during a non-district against Sam Houston at Sam Houston High School in Moss Bluff, La., Tuesday, April 10, 2018. (Rick Hickman/Lake Charles American Press)

      Rick HickmanRickHickmanPhotographer
      https://www.americanpress.com/content/tncms/avatars/6/d3/ea1/6d3ea1c8-3a6c-11e7-a1c2-0f91a5883b36.b31acdd1ef972ec0a2acb8ea5b28d153.png
      b3d31eda903a1ea9ec2160562b1d8d28.jpg

Local News

Most US students are recovering from pandemic setbacks, but millions lag

Local News

Republicans join Trump’s attacks on justice system and campaign of vengeance after guilty verdict

Local News

Late morning, afternoon thunderstorms on today’s docket

Jim Beam

Jim Beam column: Brumley likes propaganda videos

Crime

Jurors take less than 30 minutes to convict Fontenot of murder

Crime

Sheriff: Body found on the side of the road

life

Team Green Wednesday recycling drop-off schedule has changed

Local News

PHOTO GALLERY: Veterans Cemetery holds burial for seven unclaimed veterans

Business

Commonwealth LNG accused of mowing over threatened bird habitat

Local News

Biden announces Israel has offered a three-part proposal to end the war in Gaza

Local News

Release of 1M barrels of gas ‘not likely’ to ease price at pump

Crime

LC man charged with child porn possession

Local News

Scooter Hobbs column: Everything you need to know (and more) about LSU opponent

Local News

Lake Charles, Sulphur populations down, but Hunter says news isn’t all bad

life

STEM-centric Saturday: Phillips 66 STEM Family Fun Day in the Park this weekend

Local News

Four local educators finalists for state teacher, principal of the year

Crime

Trial begins for man accused in fatal Sherry Street shooting

Crime

GUILTY: Trump becomes first former US president convicted of felony crimes

Crime

Doomsday plot: Idaho jury convicts Chad Daybell of killing wife and girlfriend’s 2 children

Local News

WEATHER UPDATE: Potential for severe storms into Saturday

Local News

Sowela awarded nearly $300,000 to support mental health intiativies

Local News

Louisiana may soon require public school classrooms to display the Ten Commandments

Crime

Jury in Trump trial resume deliberations after asking to rehear testimony

Crime

Two injured in Wednesday shooting