Recapping the "open government" agenda in the Tennessee Legislature now that lawmakers are safely home

The two biggest surprises from the just-ended legislative session were the unprecedented high number of bills affecting open records and meetings, public notices, and an assortment of other First Amendment issues and the failure in the Senate to close gun carry permit files.

The 30 bills represented three times the norm for a single year in a two-year session. We dealt with several of them, but unfortunately more than 20 are likely to return in January. Even though 2010 is an election year, we expect more to be filed.

Some of the deferred legislation is very bad, which means we have a lot of homework to do this summer and fall on such issues as closing police records, changes in public notice laws and possible changes to established libel law.
-- Frank Gibson, executive director of Tennessee Coalition for Open Government.