Image via WikipediaMississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has signed S.B. 2289 [Code Sec. A-025-0041-0015, A-025-0061-0015], adding teeth to the state's open meeting and public records laws, the Associated Press reports.
Under the new law, as of July 1, public officials who violate the open meetings law could face penalties of $500 to $1,000. Previously, taxpayers bore the fines for public officials' infractions. The tougher measure, which received praise from the Mississippi Press Assn. and government-watchdog groups, was a response, in part, to critics who complained that a recent $100 fine assessed by the state Ethics Commission, which received a complaint from the Meridien Star newspaper, against Lauderdale County supervisors for improperly closing a meeting, was not enough of a deterrent.