North Carolina Sunshine Amendment (2012)

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The North Carolina Sunshine Amendment did not make the 2012 ballot in the state of North Carolina as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The proposed measure would have amended state public record and meeting laws.

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.[1]

The primary sponsors include Reps. Stephen LaRoque and Tim Moore. Senators Debbie Clary, Tommy Tucker and Thomas Goolsby filed a companion bill in the Senate.[1][2]

Support

Primary sponsor and supporter Rep. Stephen LaRoque argued that a constitutional amendment would carry more weight than public records and open meetings laws.[3]

Charles Marshall, a lobbyist for the North Carolina Press Association 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.[3]

Opposition

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.[3]

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.

See also

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