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Cooperatives Consider Calls for Transparency

In the past few years electric cooperatives have increasingly been called upon to provide greater access to records and Board meetings.  In some states, lawmakers have proposed legislation that would subject electric cooperatives to state open records and open meetings laws.  Some cooperatives have also had members call for bylaw amendments that would bring about similar results.  AHC attorneys Roland Hall and Charles Autry recently discussed this issue in their article “Addressing Calls for Transparency.”  Roland and Charles initially note that while some cooperatives are already subject to state open access laws or have adopted “open access” policies, most have policies and practices similar to typical corporations and maintain closed Board meetings and provide access to a limited universe of documents.  The article states that cooperatives can work to prevent member concerns about transparency from developing into a divisive issue by educating members about the cooperative’s policies and the reasons for those policies.  The article discusses current cooperative practices, examines the state open access and open records law applicable to public entities, and, for those cooperatives interested in developing open access policies, provides guidance on drafting such policies.

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