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State should create open government board

February 11, 2012
Messenger News

Because the issue of open meetings and open records is, in fact, all about the public, we are heartened by support among Iowans for improved government openness and accountability.

One prudent, effective way to give the people of Iowa what they want and deserve is creation of a state board to handle citizen complaints about alleged government violations of open meetings and access to records.

It's time this year for state lawmakers to advance such legislation to Gov. Terry Branstad, who supports establishment of a board.

The results of a September poll commissioned by the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and reported on in Sunday's Journal showed two in three Iowans believe government should put more effort into holding public meetings and making documents available to the public and two in three Iowans support creation of a state board to hear complaints.

Two in three. That's a crystal-clear message.

Last year, the Senate passed a bill through which a seven-member board would be created to resolve conflicts related to open records and open meetings at a cost of just $150,000 per year. The bill stalled in the House. In fact, legislation to create this kind of board has passed the Senate but become stalled in the House for four consecutive years.

We urge the House to get behind an idea supported by the governor, the Senate and an overwhelming number of Iowans. We call on our local and area House members to lead the way in advocating for greater sunshine on the work of government in our state.

Simply put, establishment of this board would send all the proper messages about our state's commitment to government openness in the conduct of the people's business at all levels.

- Sioux City Journal, Jan. 31



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