It is rumored that a controversial government-secrecy bill that died two years ago may reappear when the Georgia General Assembly convenes in January. The legislation, bill number 218 in the House, failed to come to a vote in the Senate in 2004. But it did have success in the House, passing despite heated bipartisan protest.
The future of a proposal that would shroud certain government discussions has become something of a secret itself.
Lawmakers say they aren’t sure that the measure to cloak industrial-recruitment negotiations will return when the General Assembly opens its next session in January. House Speaker Glenn Richardson, R-Hiram, suggested as much earlier this year on the campaign trail.
“It depends on who you talk to,” said House Minority Leader DuBose Porter, D-Dublin. His party teamed up with skittish Republicans to kill the measure two years ago.
Potential sponsors are backing off the idea, and Eric Johnson of Savannah, Republican leader of the Senate, has labeled the measure all but dead.
So what’s the big deal?
Supporters say the measure is needed to help the state recruit employers. Georgia is at a disadvantage, they say, because the current law’s requirement that government documents be available to the public means officials from neighboring states can request a copy of the incentives Georgia is offering a company, then up the ante.
Opponents argue that there is little evidence that the state’s open-records laws have caused Georgia to lose a single development prospect.