Bill to allow open government meetings online

AUSTIN — Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and an Austin senator are promoting a bill that would allow elected bodies to hold open meetings online.

Sen. Kirk Watson introduced Senate Bill 1297 on Thursday. The attorney general is responsible for enforcing open meeting laws, and he says the bill will make elected officials more efficient.

Under the Open Meetings Act, a quorum of elected officials cannot meet and discuss public business without inviting the public. Watson is a former Austin City Council member and says the rule slows down decision-making.

The bill would allow public officials to hold electronic meetings using an Internet chat room that the public could monitor live. But officials could still only vote at an official, public meeting.

The electronic conversations would be archived for future review.