The foundations for an accountable government can be found in strong citizen oversight, and one of the most critical tools for this goal is open government laws. Requirements for access to public records, open meetings, public comment periods, and legislative transparency are critical tools necessary for citizens to maintain control over the government they have created.
There are several resources currently available in Idaho to help citizens participate in their governance. They include open meetings and public records laws as well as Transparent Idaho (a government transparency website run by the Controller’s Office).
To help discuss these open government resources in more detail, Idahoans for Openness in Government (IDOG) is teaming up with the Idaho State Controller and Idaho Secretary of State on a series of transparency workshops (both in-person and streaming options available):
“WED. Aug. 30, 10 a.m. MT: TRANSPARENT IDAHO/TOWNHALL IDAHO - How to access public data, meeting info online for free. With: BRANDON WOOLF, Idaho State Controller (video archive)
WED. Sept. 27, 10 a.m. MT: CAMPAIGN FINANCE & LOBBYING The rules and how to access data. With: PHIL MCGRANE, Idaho Secretary of State
WED. Oct. 25, 10 a.m. MT: IDAHO OPEN MEETING LAW. With: BRIAN KANE, former Chief Deputy Idaho Attorney General and BETSY RUSSELL, IDOG president
TUES. Nov. 28, 10 a.m. MT: IDAHO PUBLIC RECORDS ACT The law and the public’s rights. With: BRIAN KANE and BETSY RUSSELL”
You can sign up for the IDOG transparency workshops here.
As noted by the Idaho Public Records Law Manual:
“Open government is the cornerstone of a free society. The Idaho Legislature affirmed Idaho’s commitment to open government by enacting the Idaho public records law in 1990. The public records law protects each citizen’s right to monitor the actions of state and local government entities by providing access to government records.”
The Idaho Open Meeting Law Manual continues:
“Open and honest government is fundamental to a free society. The Idaho Legislature formalized our state’s commitment to open government by enacting the Idaho Open Meeting Law in 1974. The Open Meeting Law codifies a simple, but fundamental, Idaho value: The public’s business ought to be done in public.”
Mountain States Policy Center is a strong supporter and advocate for robust open government laws and transparency resources. One area that we’d like to see an improvement in for Idaho is a change to legislative rules that would require at least a 72-hour waiting period before action or hearings on bills can occur. More to come on this in the near future.