North Carolina Sunshine Amendment (2012)
|Not on Ballot|
| This measure did not or |
will not appear on a ballot
More specifically, the measure would have guaranteed that the public had the right to inspect and copy public records and attend all public body meetings except those exempt the General Assembly. The proposal would also required a two-thirds "supermajority" vote in each chamber to pass any bills that would amend the level of access to public records and meetings.
Charles Marshall, a lobbyist for the North Carolina Press Association (dead link) and North Carolina Association of Broadcasters, supports the proposed bill. "They are the people’s records," he said. Marshall also argues that the people have the "fundamental democratic right" to inspect and review the records.
Some opponents questioned the need for a constitutional amendment. Paul Meyer, a lobbyist for the North Carolina League of Municipalities, argues that case law and statutes already address open government in the state. Eddie Caldwell, executive vice president of the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association, said lawmakers should guard against unintended consequences of such an amendment. Currently, criminal investigative records are exempt from public records laws.
- Rep. Joe Hackney argued that the proposed amendment "doesn't add anything to existing law."
- The North Carolina Association of County Commissioners expressed opposition to the proposed amendment. Todd McGee, the organization's communications director, argues that the existing laws are sufficient and an amendment may lead to confusion.
Path to the ballot
- See also: Amending the North Carolina Constitution
The North Carolina Constitution, Section 4 of Article XIII, requires that a legislatively-referred amendment go on the ballot after it is approved by a 60% vote of each house of the North Carolina State Legislature.
- Lincoln Tribune, "NCGA special session ends with amendments on the table," September 19, 2011
- TheTimesNews.com, "Elon poll finds support for sunshine amendment," March 11, 2011 (dead link)
- Lincoln Tribune, "Open Government Amendment Proposed," March 10, 2011
- News Observer, "Should access be enshrined in constitution?," accessed February 15, 2011
- Sun Journal, "Amendment would bolster rights," February 12, 2011
- North Carolina General Assembly, "Senate Bill 67," accessed February 15, 2011
- The Star, "N.C. schools, sheriffs groups lobby against open government amendment," March 9, 2011 (dead link)
- TheTimesNews.com, "Sunshine amendment debate continues," March 20, 2011 (dead link)