General Assembly earns ‘Black Hole Award’ for lack of transparency


The North Carolina General Assembly earned the infamous ‘Black Hole Award’ from the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) in March, which is an annual award bestowed upon one institution from across America that has shown “outright contempt of the public’s right to know.” The last time a state legislature was recognized was in 2012, when both Georgia and Wisconsin earned the award.

To qualify for the Black Hole Award, an institution must show an egregious violation of open government law that impacts the general public. The NC General Assembly’s recognition comes six months after the General Assembly violated the public’s right to know by changing the state’s public records law within the state budget. A provision within the budget legislation allows lawmakers total discretion over destroying records.

Using the term ‘custodian’ to indicate a legislator, the budget reads: “the custodian of any General Assembly record shall determine, in the custodian’s discretion, whether a record is a public record and whether to turn over to the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, or retain, destroy, sell, loan, or otherwise dispose of, such records.”

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