CARSON CITY — Assembly Government Affairs Chairman Marilyn Kirkpatrick showed little patience Thursday for local government excuses about how the lack of staff or technical savvy prevents officials from posting materials for the public on the Internet.
“I find it frustrating that local governments don’t want to go the extra mile,” said Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas. “Everybody is being asked to do more with less. I don’t want to hear this crying anymore. The public wants to know what is going on.”
Kirkpatrick made it clear her committee will approve Assembly Bill 239, a proposal from Assemblyman David Bobzien, D-Reno, that would require all public bodies to post all materials that pertain to agenda items on the Internet.
Now, most Nevada governments, boards and commissions only post their agendas — which contain brief statements about items that will be discussed at their hearings.
The members of the public boards, however, receive bulky volumes of material about the agenda items, leaving many audience members wondering what they are talking about when they discuss items.
Under the state’s open meeting law, the public is entitled to “any other supporting material provided to members of the public body.”
Kirkpatrick asked opponents to meet with Bobzien and propose changes by Monday so the committee can act on the bill.
“The more we can do for the public, the better we can recover together,” Kirkpatrick said.
She vented her frustrations when reading letters from clerks in Lincoln, White Pine and Humboldt counties in which they stated they could not comply with AB239 because of staff reductions and “technological limitations.”
Kirkpatrick noted the letters were e-mailed to the committee and contained power point presentations.
But Assemblyman Lynn Stewart, R-Henderson, questioned who would enforce such a law and determine whether local governments are doing the internet posting.
Bobzien said the requirements would be placed in the open meeting law. People who believe this law is being violated can file complaints with the attorney general’s office.
Every county government in Nevada but Mineral County now has a website, and some already post backup material with their agendas. Mineral County is working on its website and should have it up and running before the end of the year.
The move to require local governments to post backup material on their websites come at a time when the Legislature is doing that for the first time.
The Legislature has launched its Nevada Electronic Legislative Information System on its own website: www.leg.state.nv.us/.
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