Kirk Ross drops a whole salvo of truth bombs:
Communications between legislators and also between legislators and staff in the crafting of laws are among the few documents exempt from the state’s public records laws. The legislature’s requirements for county and municipal government agendas, meeting materials to be available well ahead of time does not apply to its own meetings.
The argument for legislative confidentiality, derived from English common law, is that the legislative process requires this privilege in order for agreements to be worked out. It’s a perfectly valid sounding rationale, but so unlimited and unchecked that it has long been intensely abused. It’s used to hide favors, fund pet projects and anonymously insert language into legislation.
I'm not even sure it sounds valid. Think about it: If lawmakers must have secrecy to agree to something, it naturally follows they're concerned about negative consequences if those communications came to light. Whether it's a strategic thing, where they don't want to give potential opponents to the measure a fair warning, or a personal concern, where they don't want to be associated with a controversial and maybe even unconstitutional act, it almost doesn't matter. They know they're on the wrong side of something, and they're trying to conceal it. Not just from other lawmakers, but from the general public. Which brings us back (once again) to the area of ethics, which should be just as important in holding lawmakers accountable as punishable crimes are. Back to the article, and what Kirk describes as the "black box":