Two Mississippi Senate bills seeking to more specifically define what constitutes a public meeting have both died in committee, according to the legislature’s website.
Senate Bills 2352 and 2489 would have collectively defined “public meeting” as only occurring when a quorum of a governing body is present. If passed, the Open Meetings Act would not have applied to gatherings of less than a quorum, meaning the public could have been barred from attending.
Sen. Lydia Chassaniol (R-Winona) sponsored both bills at the behest of Columbus city attorney Jeff Turnage, who sought “clarification” of the Open Meetings Act following a 2014 Mississippi Ethics Commission ruling against the city. In that case, the ethics commission ruled the city had violated the Open Meetings Act by holding separate closed-door meetings of the mayor and two to three council members to discuss the same matters.
SB 2352 failed to clear the Senate Judiciary Committee, while SB 2489 died in the Ethics Committee.
The deadline for all general legislation — meaning bills not tied to revenue — to progress through their assigned committees was 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Zack Plair is the managing editor for The Dispatch.