Tradition of secret budget meetings alive in Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Tennessee lawmakers' long tradition of meeting secretly to hash out budget plans is alive and well.

Republican House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick confirms to The Associated Press that key legislators met for several hours at a Nashville restaurant on Sunday to work through budget amendments.

McCormick said Republicans met first to discuss their priorities, and later invited Democrats along to voice their preferences for the state's annual spending plan.

McCormick said the meetings were held to expedite the conclusion of the legislative session, echoing similar claims made by Democratic leaders when they controlled the Legislature.

State open meetings laws do not apply to the Legislature, though House rules and the state constitution urge lawmakers to allow public access to their proceedings.

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