This week is Sunshine week, where we celebrate the Freedom of Information Act and transparent government. But it began with the disturbing news that the study of uranium mining in Pittsylvania will not be subject to public scrutiny and "many of its papers [will be kept] secret". This study will be used to determine how to regulate potential uranium mining. The outcome will have serious consequences for landowners, farmers, businesses, and water quality in the area. It is of vital importance that this study and the decisions that come from it are completely transparent. Without that transparency, the study will be difficult to trust and it will be impossible to understand how they made their decisions.
Unfortunately, this is not the only case of a lack of transparency in our government. Important decisions are frequently made behind closed doors without public input or scrutiny. Lawmakers are changing our retirement system, designing transportation plans, and making decisions about mining and water quality all without the benefit of public input. They have even gone so far as to pass complicated bills at the last minute late on Saturday evenings, with no public disclosure or input. It is outrageous that the oldest legislative body in the nation is using tactics like this to bypass their constituents and pass bills that will affect them without providing them the opportunity to voice their opinion.
Instead of celebrating Sunshine Week with new policies for a transparent government, we are faced with news that lawmakers are trying to shut the door on public input and keeping valuable information secret. Lawmakers work for us, and they must take our opinions into account before making decisions that will drastically impact our daily lives. Public input should be the cornerstone of every decision a lawmaker makes, and it is completely unacceptable that lawmakers are attempting to shut out their constituents. During Sunshine Week, we need to send a message to lawmakers and let them know that we demand to be heard when they are making these important decisions.