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Bill seeks open government rule violation as crime

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

A lawmaker's effort to make it a criminal misdemeanor for an official to violate North Carolina's public records and open meetings laws faces an uphill climb in the state Senate after committee members and local government lobbyists objected.

Bill sponsor Sen. Thom Goolsby of Wilmington told a judiciary panel Tuesday he filed the bill in response to a local Alcoholic Beverage Control board meeting and there was no way to punish those who closed the meeting unlawfully. Current law directs people to sue government officials in civil court.

Senators questioned whether the proposal would unintentionally punish elected officials following their lawyers' advice. Paul Meyer with the North Carolina League of Municipalities said the bill would slow down the release of records.

The North Carolina Press Association supports the bill.

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