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More Light for Wyoming Sunshine Laws

March 9, 2012

CASPER, Wyo. - Government watchdogs and the general public in Wyoming have new tools to keep track of what agencies and boards are doing.

The budget session which ended Thursday advanced two bills which address concerns rising out of the digital age. Dan Neal, executive director of the Equality State Policy Center, says one bill bans public meetings from happening electronically unless the public can sit in and either hear or read the discussion as it happens. The second bill deals with the issue of government e-mails being public records.

"It makes clear that just because it's electronic, if it's discussing public business, people will have access to that now, guaranteed."

When someone makes a public-records request, Neal says, it has to be acknowledged within seven days.

Neal describes the new sunshine bills as products of political compromise. He had hoped there would be a deadline to provide the records requested, and hopes that can be discussed in the future.

"Maybe some time in the future these public officials get more comfortable with the whole idea of it, but it's headway. This is a productive session for the public."

The bills are Senate File 25 and Senate File 27.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - WY