Open meetings

John Miller / AP Images

Right now, state boards and commissions created by executive order are not subject to Idaho Open Meeting law. That means they can hold meetings without letting the public know, and without letting the public sit in on the discussions.

If a new bill passes muster at the statehouse, that could change. Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, proposed the change yesterday, fittingly during Sunshine Week – a week meant to expose transparency issues in government. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

A series of seminars on open meetings and public records laws returns to southwest Idaho Monday. The organization Idahoans for Openness in Government puts together the seminars each year in different parts of the state along with the office of the Attorney General. The free public seminars start Monday in McCall then come to Boise and Nampa early next month.

Idaho’s Attorney General and the Idaho Press Club do the presentation. The interactive event lasts about three hours and features audience role playing.

The Idaho House has endorsed increasing fines for violating the state's open meeting law.

Republican Rep. Linden Bateman told House members Monday that the fees hadn't been raised since the original law passed four decades ago.

The plan is slated to increase the fine fivefold — from $50 to $250 — in order to cover the cost of inflation. More severe violations could cost up to $2,500.

The bill passed 58-11. It now goes to the Senate for approval.

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Many school districts in Idaho are negotiating teacher contracts. And because of the Students Come First education laws that passed last year, those negotiations now have to be done in full view of the public.

Before Students Come First all the public usually saw of school district contracts was the finished agreement. Now you can watch every offer and counter-offer, and every back and forth of the negotiation. This is the second year that’s been true. Students Come First went into effect in April of 2011. Many districts begin negotiations in April.