North Carolina taxpayers will have access to the reasons why government employees are hired, fired, promoted, demoted or suspended if a bill proposed in the state Legislature and cosponsored by state Sen. Chuck Edwards becomes law.
Senate Bill 355, the Government Transparency Act of 2021, was filed in the N.C. General Assembly in March. If passed, the bill would require state and local government agencies to keep and make public personnel records that are now hidden from the view of taxpayers.
Edwards said he cosponsored the bill because it is in keeping with his general philosophy that employees who serve the public and are in the public eye should be subject to the scrutiny of taxpayers.
“I believe it is vitally important that our citizens can see certain personnel records of state employees,” another cosponsor, Sen. Lisa Stone Barnes, R-Nash, told the Rocky Mount Telegram. “After all, their taxes help pay the salary of these employees. There are very real problems that exist in school and law enforcement hiring, where bad apples get passed from job to job with little to no explanation to the public. This bill would give North Carolinians a glimpse into the actions of a state employee, which will help citizens have more confidence in their government.”
Primary sponsors of the bill are Republican Sens. Bill Rabon, the chamber’s Rules Committee chairman, Norm Sanderson and Joyce Krawiec.
“The bill has a lot of support within our caucus — and the primary sponsors are passionate about the issue, so I expect we will hear it in the Senate,” Barnes said. “I can’t speak to the House. Transparency and open government are bipartisan issues, and I believe this bill is a good first step.”