New Push To Modernize Jersey’s Open Government Laws
The head of the Jersey State Senate joined the Senate Majority leader today in calling for legislation to be passed that would modernize the Open Public Meetings Act and the Open Public Records Act.
Senator Loretta Weinberg, the Majority Leader in the Upper House, says the idea behind her measures is to ensure better compliance with good government practices which promote transparency and accountability.
“Since I’ve introduced these bills a few years ago, says Weinberg, “I’ve received numerous objections from individuals in local and county government who believe that living up to their responsibility for accountable, transparent government represents an unfair burden -these bills are only intended to modernize and strengthen the existing open government laws on the books, and public officials at all levels should already be doing their best to fulfill their obligations to be accountable to the taxpaying public. We have to recognize that, first and foremost, we serve the public, and the public’s interest is best-served by having access to the product and proceedings of their government.”
State Senate President Steve Sweeney agrees, saying “New Jersey residents pay among the highest taxes in the nation, and they deserve to know how their tax money is being spent – by updating the Open Public Meetings Act and the Open Public Records Act to reflect the way we communicate with each other in the modern world, we’re making it easier for taxpayers to access that information.”
The bills would revise New Jersey’s key open government laws to reflect new trends in communicating and accessing information. The Open Public Meetings Act – also known as the Sunshine Law, – was written in 1973; by way of contrast, the Internet hadn’t even been named until 1974.
Both lawmakers note that it’s past time to update New Jersey’s government laws to reflect the shifting landscape in how people monitor and communicate with government.
The measures have been approved by the Senate State Government Committee, and are pending before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.