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By Betsy Z. Russell
Former Idaho state Rep. Gary Ingram, the author of the Idaho Open Meeting Law, has died at the age of 84.
Ingram, who served in the Idaho House from 1973 to 1980, was a longtime advocate for open government in Idaho. In 2009, he was recognized with the Max Dalton Open Government Award sponsored by the Idaho Newspaper Foundation.
“Gary Ingram has spent the last 35 years working to defend the basic principle that citizens should have open access to their government,” INF Executive Director Tom Grote, of McCall, Idaho, said when Ingram won the award.
“I was saddened to learn of Representative Ingram’s passing,” said Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden. “His legacy as the father of Idaho’s Open Meetings Law ensures transparency and confidence that our republic will carry on. Through his work, he brought light to Idaho government at every level.”
Ingram came to Idaho from St. Paul, Minn. A lifelong Republican and former Kootenai County GOP chairman, he served four terms in the House and chaired the House Local Government Committee.
The Idaho Open Meeting Law requires Idaho governmental boards, commissions and councils to meet openly and provide public notice of their meetings. The preamble that Ingram wrote for the law, which remains in Idaho state law today, says, “Formation of public policy at open meetings. The people of the state of Idaho in creating the instruments of government that serve them, do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies so created. Therefore, the Legislature finds and declares that it is the policy of this state that the formation of public policy is public business and shall not be conducted in secret.”
“He was a principled person and a firm believer in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights,” said longtime friend and fishing partner Bob Hollingsworth. “Also he was a person that if somebody did something that was against the Constitution, he let ‘em know right away – he was good that way.”
In 2012, Ingram returned to the Idaho House temporarily, serving as a substitute for then-Rep. Kathy Sims, R-Coeur d’Alene.
Ingram served on the Kootenai County GOP central committee until his death.
Current Kootenai County GOP Chair Brent Regan said in a statement, “Gary was a valued member of the Republican Central Committee where his opinions and advice were sought and respected. He will be missed and remembered.”
Ingram is survived by his wife, Thelma, four children and other family members. His death came just one day after his 84th birthday.