In particular, the two government groups propose to remove from current law a provision that prohibits two or more city council members or county commissioners from meeting in private if deliberating on issues before them. Instead, they would propose that a quorum of the governing body - typically a majority of all members - would trigger an open meeting requirement.
"In the clear majority of states (37), the quorum is used as the standard for open meetings laws," states the TML/TCSA document, noting that the state Legislature has also adopted a quorum standard in applying open meetings requirements to the House, Senate and legislative committees.
Frank Gibson, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, said the proposal would be a major step backward in requiring city councils and county commissions to make their decisions in public.
"It would be a mistake to change the law that drastically," Gibson said. "The 'two or more' standard has worked well for 33 years. It worked in the Knox County case. It worked 17 years ago in a Memphis case."