Guest Column: Let’s Embrace a Culture of Transparency  

Rep. Sarah Penn writes, "My bill requires government meeting minutes and recordings to be made available online and requires, to the extent practicable, government agencies to stream their meetings online for all to witness."

CS
CSD Staff

January 11, 20243 min read

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This week I urged my friends and family to submit public comments to the Securities & Exchange Commission over the agency’s proposed rule to establish “Natural Asset Companies.” If implemented, the SEC’s new rule will allow foreign-controlled entities to manage agricultural, recreational, and energy extraction lands in our state.

The proposed rule threatens the private property rights, energy production capabilities, and recreational interests of all Wyomingites. What’s worse- the SEC attempted to slip this rule past the people with just 21 days of public comment. 

Thanks to Wyoming Representative Harriet Hageman, this period has been extended from January 2 to January 18. You can read the rule and submit your own comments to the SEC by visiting this link.

Unfortunately, it’s not just federal agencies that try to conduct business outside of the public’s view. In recent months, we have read stories of governmental entities (municipalities, county commissions, library boards, and state agencies alike) attempting to shield their work from we the people. 

The following statements are inarguable: 

Public access to government meetings and the minutes of those meetings, along with public comment, is crucial to a functioning republic. 

In 2024, it shouldn’t be difficult to access meeting materials on the website of a government agency. 

Public officials should not treat their constituents disparagingly for engaging in the process. 

The public should feel welcome at public meetings. 

For these reasons, I will proudly introduce House Bill 49, “the By the People Act,” in the Wyoming Legislature next month.

My bill requires government meeting minutes and recordings to be made available online and requires, to the extent practicable, government agencies to stream their meetings online for all to witness.

Most importantly, my bill requires that public meetings accommodate a reasonable amount of time per agenda item for public comment. 

It is crucial that Wyoming government at all levels embrace a culture of transparency.

In a rural state like ours, virtual access to meetings and meeting materials should be the norm. In a Constitutional Republic, hearing the concerns of our fellow community members should be without question.

Let’s leave the sneaking around to agencies in D.C., and guard our system in Wyoming- a system created of the people, by the people, and for the people. 

Sarah Penn represents House District 33 in Lander

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