The Senate committee chaired by state Sen. Hanna Gallo (D-Cranston) complied with the state's Open Meetings law 100 percent of the time last year, according to a new report from Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis.
"Access 2012" reviewed the performance of every House and Senate committee during last year's legislative session. The Open Meetings law requires most governmental bodies to post meeting notices and agendas at least 48 hours in advance.
Under Gallo’s leadership, the Senate Education Committee had a perfect record for the second consecutive year.
“The 100 percent rating is certainly something that makes me proud. Every aspect of the General Assembly, including the work done in my Committee on Education, is important to the welfare of the people of our state. Accessibility and openness in the legislative process have always been my most important goals as a legislator because that is the only way to serve our citizens well,” said Gallo.
While the General Assembly is exempt from the Open Meetings law, the House and the Senate do issue meeting notices in accordance with their own rules. Mollis monitored that activity in order to produce the "Access 2012" report.
“Accountability is a crucial gauge of government’s willingness to keep the public informed about its work,” said Mollis.
In developing the data, the Secretary of State’s office reviewed meeting notices and agendas for 438 legislative meetings in 2012. As in previous years, nearly all the violations came in the last days of the session. Fifteen of the 19 total violations occurred during the 48 hours before the General Assembly recessed in the early-morning hours of June 13.
"The legislature’s capacity to give the public at least 48 hours notice as the session winds down is constrained by the compressed timeframe for consideration and the volume of bills that must be addressed," said Mollis.
Broken out by chamber, House compliance was 94 percent and Senate compliance was 97 percent in 2012. Among the some of the legislature’s most prominent committees, House Finance complied 94 percent of the time while Senate Judiciary had a 97 percent compliance rate.
The Secretary of State’s office has issued an annual Access report since 1997.
Mollis gives the public access to legislative meeting notices and agendas on his website and maintains a searchable database of meeting notices, agendas and minutes for most other state and municipal agencies, commissions, boards and departments.