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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Iowa Senate Passes FOI Bill, Municipalities Predict Demise of Democracy...

First, the good:

Iowans are in critical need of a new advocate to enforce the state's "sunshine" laws, some state lawmakers say.

A major overhaul of the open- meetings and open-records laws passed the Iowa Senate Monday night on a 43-6 vote.

The controversial bill, Senate File 2411, would create a five-member board that would push for public access to government documents and meetings and help Iowans fight violations in court if necessary.

Ah, but then comes the dread fear of transparency, and the horrors it ushers in:

But lobbyists for cities, counties, schools and hospitals have piled on lawmakers with reasons they don't like pieces of the bill, and it now faces an uncertain future in the Iowa House.

"I know there are concerns," said Rep. Vicki Lensing, a Democrat from Iowa City.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said "the odds are even or better" that the House will pass an enforcement mechanism that improves transparency in state government.Many of the opponents want the names of finalists for public jobs to remain confidential.

"As long as you have this kind of substantial ambiguity, you're going to have public officials out there working in a great deal of fear," said Larry Pope, a lobbyist for the Iowa League of Cities.

The fear! The chaos!

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