State lawmakers' emails, daily schedules and other documents currently off-limits to the public would be subject to state open records law under a bill introduced in the Minnesota House this week.
The bill is one of a handful of proposals from Rep. Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, aimed at making lawmakers' activities -- and the legislative process -- more transparent. The Legislature is currently exempt from the state public records law that makes other public officials' correspondence subject to inspection by people who file public data requests.
In a statement, Thissen said being more open about the Legislature's operations will build trust among people who don't believe lawmakers are looking out for "regular people."
“By opening the Legislature up to the same data practices and open meeting requirements we demand of all other elected officials, we can start rebuilding trust and create better laws too," he said.
The bill includes requirements about providing more notice to the public before legislative committee meetings and full floor sessions of the House and Senate, and before votes are taken on specific bills. Some documents, including correspondence with lawmakers' constituents, would remain private.
A separate bill would require both the House and Senate to set "budget targets" at least 14 days before the scheduled end of the Legislative session, a measure aimed at ending the typical last-minute scramble in the last hours of the session.