Open Meeting Debate in Richland - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Open Meeting Debate in Richland

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RICHLAND, Wash. -- City leaders and state politicians gathered tonight at WSU Tri-Cities to discuss why public meetings are needed and necessary.

One of the biggest disagreements at tonight's meeting was over who is subject to the public meeting laws. 8th Distirict Representative Larry Haler opened the meeting by saying that public meetings are needed to get people's trust in government back.

But, soon attorneys and Benton County Commissioner Leo Bowman started talking about who was subject to the open meeting laws. Bowman said city government agencies are while he says state legislative caucuses are not. Haler responded by saying that the information becomes public anyways.

Commissioner Bowman said, "Larry, you're wrong. When you go to a closed meeting, you have a caucus where there may be rumors, but it's not been an open meeting, it's not been recorded, it's not available to the general public."

Rep. Haler said, "Really, if you want to see a caucus, it's more like a stand-up routine, you'd all get a big laugh."

Haler did say there are states with open caucuses and he is not opposed to that idea in Washington.