Open Records in Mississippi

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) — When it comes to contracts entered into by the State of Mississippi, no one, except legislators, will be able to see the details.

While it brings up questions of government transparency, The Mississippi House says this is not a new policy.

The House Management Committee voted Tuesday to update what they say is an existing policy.

The policy allows Representatives to look at contracts, but they can’t make copies or give information on the contracts to anyone else.

The only thing that can be released is the total cost of the contract.
WJTV and other news organizations have filed public records requests to see the contract between the state and EdBuild, a consulting company that may help rewrite Mississippi’s school funding formula.

Governor Phil Bryant weighed in on the policy.

“Again, the legislature is able to make those decisions without having to ask the executive branch and so that’s their decision to make. I will say I think a more open government is a better government,” he said.

“This is public money so these are public records that anybody should be able to see,” said Jarvis Dortch, who represents District 66. You shouldn’t have to jump through a hoop. You shouldn’t have to send in an information request. This is something you should be able to come up to the Capitol and see this information.”

Senate President Pro Tem Terry Burton denied our request to view the contract between the state and EdBuild. His letter cites a 1972 state law that doesn’t require the Senate or Lt. Governor to release records.

We are still waiting on a response from the House of Representatives Clerk.

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