GOP right to hold hearings in open
December 18, 2008
In November, Tennessee Republicans won majorities in both houses of the General Assembly for the first time since Reconstruction. Now that they have the clout, the best thing they can do is to govern in the open.
We’re happy to see the GOP holding open hearings for the constitutional offices of secretary of state, comptroller and state treasurer. On Monday, a panel of Senate Republicans interviewed 14 candidates for these three offices. Those hearings were broadcast on the Internet so even more Tennesseans had a chance to participate.
Republicans deserve credit for opening up the process. This is definitely not “business as usual” in Nashville. In the past, Democrats would meet secretly to select candidates for constitutional offices, then present them to the entire General Assembly for approval.
Why should Tennesseans care who gets these offices? Well, to begin with, these officers take care of a lot of important duties. There’s the secretary of state, who supervises state elections and businesses. There’s the comptroller, who audits both state agencies and local governments. And there’s the treasurer, who looks after the state’s money, its investments and its pension funds.
Clearly, the average Tennessean has a vested interest in making sure competent people are appointed to these important positions. But citizens should take an interest in the process for another reason, too.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about whether these positions should continue to be appointed, or whether they should be popularly elected. By opening the process, Tennesseans will have an opportunity to make up their minds as they watch the process unfold. If they like what they see, they can keep the status quo. If they don’t, they’ll have the ammunition they need to make an informed change.
During the last election, Tennessee Republicans promised more transparency in state government. So far, they have lived up to that promise. We look forward to seeing if that positive trend continues.