Nevada open meeting law loophole sought

The Nevada Legislature will be asked to consider changing the state's open-meeting laws to keep anti-terrorism information secret.

Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, has requested a homeland security bill for this legislative session -- a Nevada version of the USA Patriot Act.

The bill draft will contain a provision to limit the type of discussions currently conducted in public.

"The theory would be that much like on a national level, when it comes to those things dealing with homeland security, we are doing ourselves a disservice by showing the bad guys what our strategy is, either budgetarily, or strategically," Perkins said.

"I think each one of us believes in the open-meeting laws," said Jerry Bussell, the state's homeland security adviser. "We don't want deals cut behind the door in a smoky room, but we also don't want to put our vulnerabilities out there."

Kent Lauer, head of the Nevada Press Association, hasn't seen Perkins' bill draft yet, but said that it could raise concerns.

"We recognize that genuine matters of security must be protected, but we're concerned about the potential of writing a bill too broadly and making things secret that aren't security matters," said Lauer, who has lobbied in past sessions to strengthen the open-meeting laws.

Perkins said a balance can be drawn between details the public needs to know and items that could put someone in harm's way.

"Maybe the total budget number is available, but the line items might not be," Perkins said. "We can give out the things that aren't going to give it away or get someone hurt."


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