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Goolsby wants to punish open records, meeting violators with jail

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Sen. Thom Goolsby says it’s time officials who violate state public records and open meetings laws are punished. That’s why he’s filed a bill that would could send violators to jail.

If Goolsby gets his way, violating these laws could get you up to 20 days behind bars.

“People who have been in Wilmington for a while remember what happened several years ago when the ABC Board had a closed meeting and kept no record, and there was basically nothing that could be done about it,” Goolsby said.

It’s a problem Goolsby says he wants to tackle head on.

“As a citizen, you face being charged with a misdemeanor for parking in a private parking lot, but as a state official, there is no punishment for you unlawfully denying citizens records and meeting attendance, and that is ridiculous,” Goolsby said.

The Wilmington Republican says his bill, the Open Meeting, Open Record Violation Law, works to change this.

“It says that if any state official – elected or appointed or bureaucrat – closes a record or closes a meeting that should otherwise be available to the public they will suffer a potential penalty of being charged with a Class 3 misdemeanor,” Goolsby said.

Goolsby says right now the only penalty for officials violating your rights is paying for an attorney.

“What this does is it will overnight, once passed, turn the lights on in north carolina when it comes to government records and government meetings,” he said.

Goolsby says politicians against the bill don’t want the public to know what they’re doing with your money, on your time and in your buildings. He says he is downright sick of it.

The bill now heads to committee.

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