Senate passes open meeting law changes

From the Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) – The Idaho Senate has passed a bill to toughen the state’s open meeting laws.

Boise Republican Sen. Kurt McKenzie said Thursday the bill will be easier to understand and will have punishments that can be enforced. The bill, SB 1142, was approved unanimously. It now goes to the House.

A 2007 Idaho Supreme Court decision hampered enforcement of the law, backers said. Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden proposed the reforms after consulting with media groups, local government interests and others.

Under the bill, if boards including city or county commissions simply err and hold an illegal closed meeting they face a fine of $50. Still, they would be allowed to mend mistakes. In more egregious violations where boards flout the limits, however, fines could run to $500.

Among those endorsing the bill are Idahoans for Openness in Government, the Idaho Association of Counties, the Association of Idaho Cities, the League of Women Voters and Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa.

From the Associated Press

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