- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:

March 17

Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News on state needing to fix open meetings law:

In a landmark press freedom case, Cox Broadcasting Corp. v. Cohn, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron White wrote that “the citizenry is the final judge of the proper conduct of public business.”

Justice White was spot on, and to that end, the judgment of the citizenry is largely dependent upon the press reporting on governmental proceedings.

Unfortunately, recent - and in our view, misguided - Alabama Supreme Court rulings, including one that allows governing bodies to hold serial meetings, have weakened the state’s open meetings law to the point of uselessness. The rulings effectively prevent the state’s press - the media, in modern parlance - from holding public officials accountable. The people now have no way of knowing what their elected representatives are up to, except at the whim of those same officials should they deign to allow light to shine on their proceedings - not exactly a democratic ideal. After all, the press is not some independent entity looking after its own interests. It is the proxy for the people, the citizenry.

A bill that would rectify the problem, for the most part, has passed the Alabama Senate but has stalled in the House, ironically during Sunshine Week (March 16-22), a national initiative of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in support of open government. The good news is, we can think of no better time for the House and, specifically, Rep. Mike Ball, to let it through. The bill is slated to go before Ball’s committee on Wednesday.

The GOP labored in the minority for more than a century in the Legislature before finally wresting control four years ago, in part by promising to forego the cronyism and ruthless power-wielding that had become entrenched under the one-party rule of the Democrats.

If the GOP wants to make a point, there is no better way to do so than to uphold a core principle of democracy.

Online:

http://www.tuscaloosanews.com

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March 18

Dothan (Ala.) Eagle on Sen. Scott Beason wanting guns, not quality education:

State Sen. Scott Beason wants Alabamians to have free access to their guns, but not a quality education.

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