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Idaho Public Records Act

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The Idaho Public Records Act governs access to public documents in Idaho. The law was first enacted in 1990.

The Idaho Open Meeting Law legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted.

To learn more about how to make a public records request in this state, please see Idaho FOIA procedures.

Relevant legal cases

See also: Court cases with an impact on state FOIA

Here is a list of lawsuits in Idaho (cases are listed alphabetically; to order them by year, please click the icon to the right of the "year" heading).


Lawsuit Year
Federated Publications Inc. v. Boise City 1996


Proposed changes

2011

See also: Proposed reforms in state sunshine laws, 2011


We do not currently have any legislation for Idaho in 2011.


2010

See also: Proposed reforms in state sunshine laws, 2010


We have no current bill pages for Idaho from 2010. This may be due to incomplete research.


2009

See also: Proposed reforms in state sunshine laws, 2009

In 2009, Idaho lawmakers changed the Idaho Public Records Act (Idaho Code § 9-340). After the change, the code stated that records relating to a retired law enforcement officer's application for a concealed weapons permits are exempt from disclosure. Records relating to concealed weapon permits for non-retired police officers were already exempt. The change means that records of retired police officers are now on a par with the records of any other applicant in the state.[1]

Idaho's transparency report card

A 2008 study, BGA - Alper Integrity Index, conducted by the Better Government Association and sponsored by Alper Services, ranked Idaho #44 in the nation with an overall percentage of 39.20%.[2]

A 2007 study, Graded state responsiveness to FOI requests, conducted by BGA and the NFOIC, gave Idaho 50 points out of a possible 100, a letter grade of "F" and a ranking of 24 out of the 50 states.[3]

A 2002 study, Freedom of Information in the USA, conducted by IRE and BGA, ranked Idaho's law as the 25th worst in the country, giving it a letter grade of "C-."[4]

Features of the law

Sunshine variations Compare States: Sunshine variations
Click on the heading to compare your state's law to other state's transparency laws.

Declared legal intention

See also: Declared legal intentions across the U.S.

The declared legal intention of the law states that, "Every person has a right to examine and take a copy of any public record of this state and there is a presumption that all public records in Idaho are open at all reasonable times for inspection."[5]

What records are covered?

See also: Defining public records

According to the Public Records Act statute, all records are presumed to be open records.[5]

Exemptions

Exceptions include:

  • Court records that would result in the release of confidentiality[6]
  • Law enforcement investigations[7]
  • Juvenile records[8]
  • Voting records of the sexual offender classification board[9]
  • Records concerning discrimination investigations[10]
  • Workers Compensation records[11]
  • Prisoner records[12]
  • Current and former public employees' information, excluding "service or employment history, classification, pay grade and step, longevity, gross salary and salary history, status, workplace and employing agency"[13]
  • Income tax information[14]
  • Hospital and medical care records[15]
  • Idaho Housing and Finance Association[16]
  • Voter registration cards[17]
  • Records in the Address Confidentiality program[18]
  • Trade secrets, including academic research[19]
  • Archaeological records and endangered species locations[20]
  • Draft legislation records[21]
  • Underwriting and claims records of the Idaho petroleum clean water trust fund[22]
  • Judicial authorization of abortions for minors[23]

However, if a record contains both exempt and non-exempt information, departments are still required to release the non-exempt information.[24]

Deliberative process exemption

See also: Deliberative process exemption and Deliberative process exemption - Idaho

What agencies are covered?

See also: Defining public body

According to the Public Records Act, all agencies that are considered part of the government of Idaho, including both state and local agencies, are covered, with the exception of the state militia.[25]

Legislature

See also: Legislatures and transparency

The Idaho state legislature is included in the Idaho Public Records Act under the broad definition of public body found at Idaho PRA 9-337-8, 11, 14.

Private governmental agencies

See also: Private agency, public dollars and Private agency, public dollars - Idaho

The Idaho Public Records Act includes all private entities created by public bodies within their definition of public body, thus subjecting those entities to the disclosure requirements outlined by the act.

Public universities

See also: Universities and open records

The definition of public body presumably includes public universities within the state. However, academic research is explicitly exempted under the trade secrets exemption found at Idaho PRA 9-340-D.

Who may request records?

See also: List of who can make public record requests by state

Any person may request public records in Idaho. The law explicitly states, "Every person has a right to examine and take a copy of any public record of this state."[26]

Must a purpose be stated?

See also: States requiring a statement of purpose

The Idaho PRA does not require a purpose to be stated and further allows a degree of anonymity with the exception of preventing the records from being used for mailing lists.

How can records be used?

See also: Record use restrictions

The only restriction on the use of open records is the creation of mailing or phoning lists.[27]

Time allowed for response

See also: Request response times by state

The PRA requires a department to respond within three business days to any request by either granting it or denying it. If the department feels that the request may take longer they may extend the time to ten days by notifying the requestor in writing.[28]

Fees for records

See also: How much do public records cost? and Sunshine laws and search fees

Fees can include duplication costs, whether paper or digital.[29]

Fees may be charged to account for the cost of the staff time consumed by the search.[30]

Role of the Attorney General

See also: Role of the Attorney General

With enforcement of Public Records Act left in the hands of the private sector, the role of the State Attorney General in this process is rather limited. The Attorney General is charged with only two specific responsibilities in regards to the state's open records law - providing information to the public about their rights under the Act and to encourage state agencies and officials to comply with the law.

Open meetings

"The people of the state of Idaho in creating the instruments of government that serve them, do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies so created. Therefore, the legislature finds and declares that it is the policy of this state that the formation of public policy is public business and shall not be conducted in secret."[31]

See also

External links

References