July 28, 2017 (Koror, Palau) Senate Standing Committees may not be in compliance with Open Government Act which requires all public entities to announce their meetings 24 hours prior in order to allow public the opportunity to attend the meetings, to exercise their rights under the law and Constitution to “observe the official deliberations” of their government..
According to opinion issued by Senate legal counsel upon request of Senator Uduch Senior, Senate Rules of Procedure is in compliance with the Open Government Act.
Rule 6E of Senate Rules of Procedure states, “Meetings of the Committees, including the Committee of the Whole shall be open to public unless a majority of the Members thereof determines other, subject to Article IV Section 12 of the Constitution and to Open Government Act.”
Some of the Senators argue that Senate Standing Committees are not announcing their meetings publicly and even some Senators are not aware of meetings taking place other than to see them referred to in Committee reports.
Senator Senior claims that some of the critical bills that have passed and some are currently pending, that have not had public input or public hearings due to lack of proper notice to the public in accordance with Senate Rules and the Open Government Act.
One such bill that became law without public notice was the amendment of the Non-Communicable Disease Fund law by removing the implementation authority from the national body to States governments as state block grants and making the states the implementing agencies for fund. The law has been in effect in barely a year. There are people that are still confused and some are unaware of the changes to the law.
Lack of notice of Senate meetings is one of the concerns raised, a perceived lack of transparency in the 10th Senate of OEK. [/restrict]