SB 1492a, the amended bill to preserve the Idaho Open Meeting law but add a provision that legislative committee meetings can be closed in certain “extraordinary” circumstances specifically laid out in House or Senate rules, passed the House on a 64-1 vote, with just Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, objecting. Senate leaders originally had written the bill to delete the section of the open meeting law that applies to legislative committees, but after negotiating with the Idaho Press Club, agreed instead to keep the section in law and simply amend it. (Full disclosure here: I’m the president of the Idaho Press Club.) The club had sued the Legislature over closed committee meetings, contending they’re unconstitutional, but had lost on a split 3-2 ruling in the Idaho Supreme Court last month.
Rep. Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, told the House, “I believe this is a good change,” and the bill passed with no debate. It now goes to the governor.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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