Nebraska lawmakers may bar media from closed-door meetings

Nebraska News

The State Capitol stands in Lincoln, Neb., Friday, July 1, 2020. Nebraska lawmakers will resume their session on July 20, 2020, after a four-month pause triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. They still have major issues to address, including a property tax package and an upgrade of Nebraska’s biggest tax incentive program, but all of that may be overshadowed by the pandemic’s impact on tax revenue. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A decades-old rule designed to promote transparency and accountability in the Nebraska Legislature could be in jeopardy.

A proposed rule change would bar reporters from otherwise private “executive sessions” of legislative committees, where lawmakers discuss and vote on bills.

The sessions are closed to the general public, but legislative rules allow reporters to attend and report what happened.

Sen. Dan Hughes, of Venango, says he introduced the measure after getting quoted several years ago in what he believed to be a private, frank discussion with fellow lawmakers.

Free-speech advocates and members of the news media say changing the rule would undermine public trust and make it more difficult for journalists to report accurately on legislative issues.

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