Should Lawmakers Cell Phone Records be Public?

Amarillo City Attorney Marcus Norris
Amarillo City Attorney Marcus Norris

by: Kristen Guilfoos

Amarillo, Texas - Secrecy concerns during open meetings are prompting Texas lawmakers to take action.

NewsChannel 10's Kristen Guilfoos has more on plans to make sure citizens are not kept in the dark.

Those concerns have everything to do with cell phones... And public officials using them to get around the open meeting act.

Some are worried elected officials, whether it's at the local or state level, are texting each other back and forth during open meetings so they can discuss what's going on without the public knowing about it.

As it stands now, there's a state law that mandates they post meeting dates 72 hours in advance, with an agenda of planned topics. It also says all final decisions must be made in public.

Texting, tweeting and cell phone use in general hasn't been addressed... Until now, when several state lawmakers brought it to the table.

Amarillo City Attorney Marcus Norris says, "I would have no objection to it. If they're going to have a conversation about public business or a public meeting, they ought to speak up and verbalize that so the public knows what they're saying. You know, the same principle, we don't allow secret votes or paper ballots in public meetings. You have to speak up and declare your position."

Lawmakers are also talking about whether their cell phones should be eligible for an open records request.

Some have concerns over this, saying it would force legislators to carry three phones... One for personal, one for campaign use and one for public use.