Tennessee Republican Rep. Tim Burchett introduced his first bill as a U.S. Congressman Thursday.
According to his office, the bill seeks to require meetings and subcommittee meetings of the Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors to be transparent and open to the public.
The bill would amend the Tennessee Valley Authority Act of 1933 Section 2(g)(2) to include a section on transparency. The “Tennessee Valley Authority Transparency Act of 2019,” as it may be cited, would require meetings of the TVA Board to be held in public, properly noticed, and make available minutes and summaries of each meeting.
“Both in the state legislature and as mayor I focused on increasing openness and transparency in government, and this bill continues those efforts at the federal level,” Congressman Burchett tweeted. “I had a good, informative meeting with TVA CEO Bill Johnson this week, and while I understand that TVA has reasons for not wanting to open all meetings to the public, as an entity created and protected by Congress, the public deserves to know the Authority’s business is as open and transparent as possible.”
Burchett stopped through East Tennessee Friday, taking a moment to stop by 10News to talk about this bill and his first month as a U.S. Congressman.
When it comes to the TVA bill, Burchett said he wants to continue pushing for transparency in government.
"I have had a career in politics of opening things up. I think the sunshine is a good thing, especially with politicians," he said. "You’re talking about a publicly owned entity -- a utility district that’s worth billions and billions of dollars, yet they are allowed to have private meetings among their board. I just don’t think that’s right."
Burchett said he wants everything from meetings on TVA contracts, rates and the 'minutia of energy' to be a matter of public record -- saying it needs to be out in the open.
“I appreciate TVA. My momma had a job with TVA,” Burchett said. “I know the impact they’ve had on this community. They are a public utility.”
And with being a public utility, Burchett said he thinks they should follow the rules of other public entities and be restricted from holding meetings behind closed doors.
“You wouldn’t have a city council or county commission able to do that,” he said.
As for future legislation, Burchett said he has several bills in the works that will be announced soon.
"I went to D.C. to work. Not play," he said.