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Eye On Boise

Ombudsman: Idaho’s public records process needs strengthening, and a venue short of court for appeals

Four months into her new job, Idaho’s public records ombudsman, Cally Younger, says more work needs to be done to clarify and strengthen Idaho's public records process. She's surveying state agencies and meeting with stakeholders in advance of the 2015 Legislature, and recommending potential changes to her boss, Gov. Butch Otter, reports Idaho Statesman reporter Cynthia Sewell.

Under Idaho’s current public records law, a citizen or journalist who is denied access to a public record has to sue in court to challenge the denial. Younger told the Statesman that’s a problem and one she’s working to fix with new legislation to be proposed next year. "I think the biggest shortcoming is that litigation is the only remedy for a requester, which in many cases can be cost-prohibitive to pursuing withheld records," Younger said. "That is one of the biggest issues that I am going to look into. I think it is important." She added, “We actually had our first meeting last month to talk about our goals for this session. I am hopeful that we can add that review process and also clear up some ambiguities in the law.”

Younger also said she's working to improve response to public records requests by state agencies. Sewell’s full article and a Q-and-A with Younger ran Sunday; they’re online here.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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