We are the Sunshine Center of the North Carolina Open Government Coalition. If you are a records or meetings holder or someone seeking access to records or meetings, we hope this site will be a useful resource. Check out our educational resources about open government.
The North Carolina Open Government Coalition unites organizations interested in ensuring and enhancing the public's access to government activity, records and meetings. The nonpartisan coalition will educate people about their rights and support their efforts to gain access, and advocate the principles and benefits of open government. Education is critically important these days because, according to Elon Poll results, a majority of North Carolina residents are unaware of sunshine laws.
Retired General David Petraeus pleaded guilty in Charlotte last week to leaking classified materials to his mistress and biographer. The sentencing report, which is typically public, was sealed in Petraeus' case. The Charlotte Observer, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, New York Times, NPR, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal joined together to request the documents be made public.
This page will be updated periodically with the status of bills currently in the General Assembly that could affect government transparency. The General Assembly is considering 7 new records exemptions. One bill has been passed into law. Many others failed to meet the so-called "crossover" deadline of April 30.
A bill that creates a broad, new exemption for videos collected by police body-worn cameras and dashboard cameras passed the N.C. House today 115-2. The revised bill gives discretion to police departments on withholding video from dashboard cameras and body cameras. It also makes clear the videos are not subject to personnel privacy rules.
A House Bill filed Tuesday would make clear in the Public Records Act that law enforcement agencies have discretion to release body-worn camera video. Some agencies believe they are prohibited by personnel privacy protections. The law would not require that the videos be released.
A three-judge panel of the N.C. Court of Appeals heard oral arguments Monday in a public records dispute over minutes of closed sessions held by the Alamance-Burlington School System Board of Education. The board has declined to release un-redacted minutes of closed sessions for personnel purposes when it met to discuss the departure and $200,000 severance package of former Superintendent Lillie Cox. The Times-News filed a lawsuit to gain access.
Wednesday was the deadline for members of the N.C. House of Representatives to file bills for the 2015 General Assembly. Like the Senate deadline last week, the House deadline attracted a number of bills effecting transparency, including a proposal for a joint legislative commission to study transparency improvements. House members also proposed two new exemptions.
More than a dozen bills introduced in the final hours before Thursday's filing deadline would affect transparency in North Carolina. They include eight new records exemptions, a pair of new transparency initiatives, several clarifications on who is subject to the public records law and a special rule that allows law enforcement personnel to have certain personal information removed form government websites.
A bill filed Thursday in the Senate would limit the right of access created by the Public Records Act to "citizens" of North Carolina. The law currently allows access for "any person" regardless of whether they are state residents.