Attorney General Jim Hood http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/documents/2016/nov/21/ag-hood-letter-legislative-leaders-edbuild-contrac/">sent a letter to legislative leaders today reminding them that they must release the EdBuild contract to the Transparency Mississippi website, despite their own House Management Committee rules.
Last week, http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/2016/nov/16/public-cant-see-mississippi-house-contracts-panel-/">several news organizations attempted to get access to the contract between the Mississippi Legislature and http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/2016/nov/18/shrouded-secrecy-edbuild-ceo-gets-feedback-public-/">the nonprofit EdBuild that the state is contracting with to examine the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. The contract with EdBuild is paid in part by the state and in part by private donors. The state is paying $125,000 of the cost, while undisclosed private donors are paying another $125,000, the AP reported.
The House Management Committee changed their rules last week, allegedly keeping all contracts private and not accessible via the state's Public Records Act.
Hood's letter says that while lawmakers do have the power under the Public Records Act to limit access to legislative records, they are not exempt from the Mississippi Accountability and Transparency Act, which requires all agencies to let the Department of Finance and Administration access their data and post the contracts on http://www.transparency.mississippi.gov/default.aspx">the Transparency Mississippi website. Hood told legislative leaders that they have two weeks to give DFA access to that information, as is prescribed in the Mississippi Accountability and Transparency Act.
The Senate has not changed their management rules yet to come into compliance with the House's new rule, but the Senate Rules Committee is scheduled to meet this week.
Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Greg Snowden and Senate President Pro Tempore Sen. Terry Burton released a statement after Hood's letter was sent.
“When the agreement was approved in October, the terms of the Legislature’s contract with EdBuild to review school funding was shared with the public,” the joint statement says. “Over the last four days as House and Senate leadership continued to study the issue, Legislative legal staff concluded the contract should be posted to the Transparency Mississippi website. The contract has been released to the Department of Finance and Administration to be posted on the Transparency Mississippi website.”
http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/documents/2016/nov/22/edbuild-contract-transparency-ms/">The contract is up and available on the Transparency Mississippi's website this morning or http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/documents/2016/nov/22/edbuild-contract-transparency-ms/">you can read it here.