Iowa Moves A Giant Step Forward Towards An FOI Office…

Great news from Iowa, which has moved one big step closer to creating a state FOI obudsman…

Iowa lawmakers on Tuesday moved a big step closer to creating a long-sought state agency for enforcing open-records laws and ensuring access to government.

The House voted 92-7 to establish the Iowa Public Information Board, and a leading senator indicated her chamber was likely to pass the bill as well.

“This is just a win-win for the citizens of Iowa,” said Sen. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque. “We finally have a public information board that will help to ensure that citizens have access to public records and make sure that elected officials are following the open-meetings law.”

The bill, Senate File 430, creates a new state agency guided by a nine-member panel that will mediate disputes between governments and record-seekers and issue rulings on alleged open-records and open-meetings violations.

The agency also will be tasked with training government officials on the intricacies of the law and educating the public on their rights to access government information.

“The bill seeks a culture of more open government, and the result will be a better-equipped citizen participant putting trust back into our system,” said Rep. Walt Rogers, R-Cedar Falls, who managed the bill’s progress in the House.

The law creating the new agency also includes a more accessible process for members of the public and the media to pursue records from the state and local governments such as cities, counties and school boards.

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