The cause of open government took a potential step backward Monday when House Bill 1201 advanced in Pierre.Look for this one to start making the rounds, as our elected leaders tell us that they are just saving time and money...plus, no one really cares if they get together and "provide information" without notice or public attendance, do they? Of course not! Heck, why burden our public officials with all of these onerous rules....
The bill, which passed the House 60-7 and now moves to the Senate, creates an opening in South Dakota's open meeting laws by allowing two or more governing boards to meet in order to "provide information" or "observe" proceedings. According to the provision, if a quorum of members are present (or involved in a teleconference) for such a purpose, "it does not constitute an official meeting," therefore requires no public notice or agenda.
This is a bothersome development in the current atmosphere, in which many school districts are exploring the idea of consolidating or sharing services with neighboring districts. If HB1201 becomes law, the members of two boards could meet without the public's prior knowledge and away from media scrutiny. It would have impacts on other board and commission proceedings, too.
Broad theme here: "Trust Us."
Not this old boy....
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