There is growing concern for open government among several legislators. It looks like the Sioux Falls school district is trying to play semantics with the current open records law when they release employment contracts of all employees except superintendent Pam Homan. The intent of the law is certainly clear, and senate sponsor of the existing law Al Novstrup is glad to clear up any doubt.
In last Sunday’s Argus Leader:
Sen. Al Novstrup, R-Aberdeen, was the lead sponsor on legislation last session that created a financial penalty for public entities that act in bad faith by denying access to public records. He said he intends to bring another bill next year that would make it clear that school administrators’ contracts are public.Novstrup called the Sioux Falls decision “outrageous.”“They’re saying, ‘We are spending the taxpayers’ money in a way that we don’t want you to know,’ ” he said. “We’re still not to the point where the elected official or the bureaucrat understands that the citizens own the government.”
Earlier this month, Governor Dennis Daugaard stated in this Argus Leader story that he would sign legislation.
?Every public employee contract should be an open record, and I would sign legislation to make that very clear,? the governor said via Twitter.
STATE OFFICIALS CALL FOR OPENING PUBLIC RECORDSFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASESeptember 23, 2011DAKOTA DUNES, SD ? State Senator Dan Lederman and State Representative Patty Miller will co-sponsor legislation during the upcoming legislative session making all public employee contracts open for public inspection and copying. State Senator Dan Lederman stated that, ?the public deserves to know specifically how their taxpayers dollars are being spent and what they are spent on. The actions of school district officials in Yankton and Sioux Falls have brought to light that some public officials believe they can hide behind poorly written disclosure laws; that time is over. We are going to shine the brightest light possible on public records.?State Representative Patty Miller of North Sioux City is joining with Senator Lederman to make records open to the public, ?it?s time to let the sun shine in on public records. There is no reason why taxpayers shouldn?t know what we are paying for. Making government more transparent and accountable will help citizens to determine how all levels of government operate and spend our tax dollars.?Lederman and Miller are proposing to amend South Dakota Codified Laws 1-27-1.5 (7) and 1-27-1.5(10) to open up for public inspection public employee contracts in their entirety with the exception of vital personal data such as birth dates, social security numbers or health insurance information.
Judging from recent comments there is a strong consensus to enact such legislation and eliminate the exception claimed by the Sioux Falls school district.