A bill that would change Arkansas' Freedom of Information Act to make it easier for local elected officials to meet outside of the public view was defeated in committee Wednesday.
House Bill 1610 by Rep. Mary Bentley, R-Perryville, would have amended the open meetings portion of the the state’s Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, to apply only if there were a quorum present.
A minimum quorum is the number of board members needed to be present to take action and differs from body to body.
Bentley said the change was needed to make it easier for local lawmakers to meet to conduct business, and said it would put Arkansas’ Sunshine Law in line with how 47 other states regulate public meetings.
Currently under the state’s Freedom of Information Act, if two or more elected officials meet to discuss official business it could be considered a meeting and must be open to the public, according to the Arkansas Attorney General’s 2022 Freedom of Information Act Handbook.
State lawmakers are largely exempted from state’s Freedom of Information Act.