Mississippi lawmakers vote to make all government contracts secret

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A Mississippi legislative committee voted Tuesday to adopt a new policy that makes all government contracts confidential.

{mosads}The new law was created in response to a public record request from a local newspaper.

According to Mississippi Today, it filed the request to get information on a contract between the state and the nonprofit EdBuild, which is tasked with reviewing and potentially rewriting Mississippi’s Adequate Education Program. The program informs how much money public schools receive from the state each year.

The paper said that after filing the request to the Mississippi House of Representatives, it was told by House Clerk Andrew Ketchings the committee would have to vote on whether to release the contract at its next meeting.

Instead the committee adopted the new policy, making all contracts private.

The rule reads, “All contracts entered into by the House Management Committee shall be confidential and shall not be released to any person or entity, except as specifically directed by the House Management Committee only when the committee deems necessary for the execution of the contract.”

Layne Bruce, head of the Mississippi Press Association, told Mississippi Today the adoption of the policy would be a “negative precedent.”

The legislature’s current policy says travel records are the only truly public records. State Sen. Terry Burton told the paper, “Emails, contracts, text messages and all that, those are not public records.”

The public will be given its first chance to comment on the policy Thursday afternoon.


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