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Weekly Address — August 29, 2019

From the historic hallways of the most beautiful state Capitol in our great nation, this is Senator Keith Ingram.

When elected officials meet and make decisions that affect taxpayers, under Arkansas law those meetings must be open to the public.

The details of government spending should be transparent and available to all citizens. A record should be readily available to citizens who want to know which companies have contracts with state government.

The public has a right to know how government spends tax dollars, down to the penny, regardless of whether it’s being spent in Washington, Little Rock, the county seat or the local school district.

That’s why we expanded the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act, requiring all public meetings to be recorded.

Complying with the new law is as simple as turning on your cell phone when the meeting starts.

Cities of the second class and incorporated towns have until July 1 of 2020 to comply, but the law is already in effect for all other government entities in Arkansas.

Transparency and accountability were major factors in the Senate’s decision to install video cameras in all of its rooms and broadcast all of its proceedings.

Now, anyone with a computer or a smart phone can watch all Senate committee meetings and the proceedings of the full Senate. You can watch live, and you can also watch recorded versions of previous meetings.

There are some who opposed the expansion of transparency at the state Capitol, but I believe that government decisions are the people’s business.

If elected officials are allowed to conduct business in private, they’re tempted to take care of their own interests, at the expense of the common good.

The United States is the strongest nation on earth, and open government is one of the most important reasons.

From the Capitol, it is always my greatest honor and most sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Keith Ingram.

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