Bateman’s retooled bill to raise fines for open meeting law violations wins support

From Eye on Boise/The Spokesman-Review

The House State Affairs Committee gave a far different reception this morning to Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls, for his new version of legislation to raise the fines for violations of the Idaho Open Meeting Law. Bateman modified his proposal to raise the fines from the current $50 to $250; and from the current $500 to $1,500 for knowing violations, and to $2,500 for repeated knowing violations.

“I think that this is an excellent edit of the last bill,” Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, said. “I hope that the district attorneys and those that are given information about these violations will now find it worth their time to pursue these a little bit more diligently than we’ve seen in the past. Thank you.”

Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, told Bateman, “I just wanted to say again, thank you. Informally, many people actually approached me after the last hearing and they were very thankful for you coming forward and raising that.”

The committee was far less receptive last week when Bateman proposed upping the penalties from $50 to $500 and from $500 to $5,000; Barbieri said then that he was “appalled” by the proposal for a ten-fold increase. Bateman retooled the bill to match the increases to inflation since 1974, when the Idaho Open Meeting Law first was enacted. “This is just a matter of concern,” he told the committee. “Public policy should be open. And to keep the 1974 penalties would be to diminish the significance of the legislation.” Today’s unanimous vote clears the way for a full hearing on Bateman’s bill.

From Eye on Boise/The Spokesman-Review

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