The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register editorial
Just a few months after West Virginia voters said yes to a $1.6 billion road improvement bond issue, state legislators want to limit the public’s ability to know how the money will be spent.
State Senate Bill 474, on the verge of passage in that body, would shut off access to the records. West Virginians would be left to rely on assurances from state officials that in-state residents are getting the jobs.
Lawmakers in favor of the bill insist they simply want to protect workers’ privacy. The press should not have access even to limited payroll records for publicly funded projects, they say.
But such access has been permitted for many years. We have heard no complaints about workers’ privacy being invaded.
So why is there concern now?
It is a good question — one without an acceptable answer. Enactment of the bill would prompt some West Virginians to wonder, as we have too often in the past, what our government is trying to hide.
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