Cellular South is asking Judge William Singletary to revoke his 2006 order. It was issued after competing companies back then attempted to get copies of pricing and other info BellSouth submitted for the state’s request for proposals for phone and internet service. At the time, the state’s open records law allowed records containing a company’s trade secrets or confidential commercial or financial information to be sealed if they obtained a court order.
But in passing contract and transparency reform this year, the Legislature amended the law. It said provisions of a state contract that contain the commodities or services purchased, the price to be paid and the term of the contract “shall not be deemed to be a trade secret or confidential commercial or financial information” and shall be open to the public.
Lawmakers this year also amended the law to specify ITS contracts. It says: “Contracts … that are awarded or executed by any state agency, including, but not limited to, the Department of Information Technology Services, and the Department of Transportation, shall not be exempt from the Mississippi Public Records Act of 1983.
BellSouth said the new law isn’t retroactive, and would only apply to contracts after July 1 of this year. But Cellular South says the contract is in effect – and appears to have been frequently changed and then extended without any competitive process – and should be open. Both point to case law for their arguments.