A handful of bills that would lift the veil of secrecy from state and local government cleared the first legislative hurdle Tuesday.
Among the survivors is a measure that would require law enforcement agencies to make police incident reports available to the public when an investigation is complete, according to the Associated Press.
House and Senate committees cleared companion bills addressing the police incident reports.
The bills are among several bills designed to improve government openness being supported by the Mississippi Freedom of Information Center and the Mississippi Press Association. Several state news organizations, including the Hattiesburg American, recently published an eight-day series on Mississippi's sunshine laws.
Also clearing a House committee was a bill that gives the state Ethics Commission the authority to enforce the sunshine laws.
A bill introduced by Rep. Toby Barker, R-Hattiesburg, that would give the public access to details about state contracts and subcontracts via the Internet was approved by the House Appropriations Committee.
Barker, a freshman, said the bill cleared the committee without changes.
"There were questions about the cost of the Web site, but we found out that most recently Missouri and Kansas have implemented their Web sites for no cost," he said.
He said the federal government has free software for states to set up Web sites.
Barker said the bill, which would establish the Mississippi Taxpayer Transparency Act, still has a long way to go.
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