The House has voted unanimously in favor of HB 90 and 91, to create a new title in state law called “Transparent and Ethical Government” and move three now-scattered laws into the new title: The Idaho Open Meeting Law, the Idaho public records law, and the Ethics in Government and conflict of interest provisions. Rep. James Holtzclaw, R-Meridian, told the House, “HB 90 is a government transparency bill … providing one place for citizens to find laws relating to government transparency.”
The public records law is currently in the middle of a section of the Idaho Code on “evidence.” The Open Meeting Law is in a miscellaneous section; and the ethics provisions are under “Public Officers.” “Putting these statutes under their own title makes these statutes more accessible to the public and officials that must comply with these laws,” Holtzclaw said. “Transparency is crucial for us as lawmakers, to maintain the trust of the people that we serve.”
The two bills – HB 90 creates the new title, and HB 91 makes all the necessary cross-references – were developed by a committee put together by Cally Younger, Gov. Butch Otter’s public records ombudsman. The measures were unanimously endorsed by all members of Younger’s committee, representing the Idaho Attorney General’s office, the Idaho Press Club, the Newspaper Association of Idaho, the Association of Idaho Cities, and the Idaho Association of Counties; representatives of the Idaho Supreme Court also provided input. (Full disclosure here: As president of the Idaho Press Club, I am among those on the committee.) Otter appointed Younger as Idaho’s first public records ombudsman last spring.
The 67-0 votes on the two bills send them over to the Senate side.