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January08

Changes coming for open meeting laws?

During his State of the State Address, Governor Dennis Daugaard referenced the progress of his “Better Government” initiative, which includes more openness in South Dakota government.

 

“Open government had a banner year in 2012 with the formation of the Open Meeting Task Force,” Daugaard declared during the address.

 

The task force, appointed by Daugaard and Attorney General Marty Jackley, was charged with examining the state’s open meeting’s laws and drawing up potential legislation for the administration.

 

ASBSD Executive Director Wade Pogany was a member of the task force and characterized the meetings as a “discussion centered on the balance between allowing more public access to government meetings and records and how local governments can best operate in a public environment,” in the December issue of Policy Matters.

 

Eight recommended changes to law were made by the task force, but will not necessarily be introduced as legislation by the administration, although during the address Daugaard requested legislators pass the open government bills his administration introduces.

 

Recommendations that could affect school board operations include:
  •  Digital communication – text messages, Facebook conversations, etc. – should be considered public information when a quorum of board members discusses official school business.
  •  Anonymous information about personnel, any individual seeking employment or those receiving benefits shall remain confidential unless substantiated.
  •  Meetings held by committees or advisory councils appointed by the board, but not given sovereign power may be considered open to the public.

 

A recommended change to executive session, which would have required the sessions to be recorded and maintained for one-year, was not adopted by the task force. However, Pogany warns the suggested change to executive session could still be introduced as legislation.

 

ASBSD will monitor any open government bills introduced during session and update our members on how it could relate to school boards.

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