For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
(208) 334-4112

Date: June 30, 2009

Open Meeting Law Changes Take Effect July 1

(Boise) – Important changes to the Idaho Open Meeting Law take effect today, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said. Wasden led a coalition of local governments, journalists and open government advocates in presenting changes to the 2009 Legislature. The proposals were adopted by the Idaho House of Representatives and the Idaho Senate and signed into law by the Governor.

Under the revised law, public officials are subject to a civil penalty of up to $50 for any violation of the Open Meeting Law. Second and subsequent violations can result in a penalty of up to $500 and any “intentional” violation is subject to a civil penalty of up to $500.

In addition, the new law further restricts the circumstances under which governing bodies of public agencies may meet behind closed doors in “executive session.”

The amendments also clarify the procedure for amending a public meeting agenda before and during the meeting and provide a procedure by which governing bodies of public agencies can cure a violation of the Open Meeting Law.

“Idaho’s Open Meeting Law has been in effect since 1974,” Attorney General Wasden said. “While there have been some changes to the law over the past 35 years, it was in need of revision to ensure the people’s business remains the people’s business. The hard work and foresight of the journalists, local government officials and my staff who worked hard to overhaul this law is commendable. For my part, I will continue to work tirelessly for open government and will recommend legislative changes to help ensure open government.”

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