After bouncing back and forth between the House and Senate multiple times, legislation to raise fines for violations of the Idaho Open Meeting Law won final legislative approval tonight and went to Gov. Butch Otter. The latest version of the bill, HB 324, passed the Senate on a 29-4 vote, with just Sens. Guthrie, Johnson, Schmidt and Tippets objecting. It had cleared the Senate State Affairs Committee just beforehand, in a meeting held in a conference room just off the Senate chambers. An earlier version of the bill also passed easily, but a technical amendment added in the Senate ended up mistakenly repealing a portion of the law, prompting the House to introduce a new version.
HB 324 earlier passed the House, 60-9. It would raise the fines for a simple violation of the Open Meeting Law from $50 to $250; for a knowing violation from $500 to $1,500; and for knowing, repeated violations, from $500 to $2,500. “They haven’t been increased … for 41 years,” Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls, the bill’s sponsor, told the Senate committee.