Open Government Push

LAS VEGAS (AP) - An open government group on Thursday urged legislators to support greater transparency in government and to conduct more state business in public.

Nevada Freedom of Information Coalition president Thomas Mitchell said the group is asking state lawmakers to sign a pledge committing themselves to supporting stronger open meeting and public information laws, and to encouraging better online access to legislative votes and data on state spending.

"This is the public's right to know. If you're going to be citizen, if you're going to vote, if you're going to be involved,you need to know what's going on." Mitchell, the editor of the LasVegas Review-Journal, said at a news conference. "Otherwise, we're left in the dark, we're left to guess, we're left to rely on leaks."

The coalition is made up largely of representatives from media organizations in the state, including The Associated Press.
Mitchell said the group will post the names of those lawmakers who have and haven't signed the pledge on its Web site.

Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, and State Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The issue is particularly pressing this week as lawmakers are hashing out a plan to raise taxes in response to the state's budget crisis, Mitchell said. Most critical tax discussions at the Legislature have taken place in private meetings of what has been dubbed "the core group" of legislative leaders.

The Legislature is exempt from Nevada laws requiring other public bodies, boards and commissions to deliberate in public.

Mitchell said he can "see no reason whatsoever" why small groups of lawmakers should meet privately to discuss public business.
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On the Net:
Nevada Freedom of Information Coalition http://nevadafoic.org/


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