Speaker Harwell calls for ‘pre-meeting’ transparency in Tennessee House

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – House Speaker Beth Harwell is calling for an end to secrecy in legislative ‘pre-meetings.’

According to a memo obtained by The Associated Press, the Nashville Republican urged committee chairs to establish an “open door policy” to the meetings about pending legislation.

Previous story: Secret ‘pre-meetings’ become commonplace in Tennessee House

Harwell’s memo comes a day after the AP and the state’s four largest newspapers reported that at least 10 of 15 House committees were holding pre-meetings without public notice about times or location. Some were also explicitly barring the media and the public from attending.

Supporters argued the pre-meetings allow free-flowing discussion about bills without lobbyists, the media or parliamentary procedure. But without public access, it was impossible to verify whether lawmakers were keeping promises that they are not predetermining the outcome of later votes.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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