Bill Description: House Bill 170 would prohibit state agencies and departments from donating to nongovernmental organizations or sponsoring their events without written permission from the governor or an agency head.
NOTE: House Bill 170 is related to, and a replacement for, House Bill 12, introduced earlier this session. While House Bill 12 left all sponsorship decisions up to the governor, House Bill 170 leaves many such decisions up to the respective chief executive officers of the state's many boards and commissions.
NOTE: House Bill 170 was amended in the Senate to add that "a designee within the governor's office" could also approve a donation or sponsorship. The amendment also added definitions and removed the only enforcement provision in the bill, which characterized a violation as "misuse of public moneys," a crime already in Idaho code. Despite these largely negative changes, the rating of (+1) remains the same.
Does it increase government spending (for objectionable purposes) or debt? Conversely, does it decrease government spending or debt?
In recent years, certain various state agencies, including the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, have made significant financial payments to nongovernmental organizations for events featuring contentious issues and viewpoints.
House Bill 170 would create Section 67-2359, Idaho Code, to say, "No donation or sponsorship to any nongovernmental event or organization shall be made by or in the name of any of the twenty (20) departments of the state government unless the department is required to do so by law or has received prior written permission from the governor or a designee within the governor's office." (The underlined text was added by the Senate amendment.)
It also says, "Any donation or sponsorship to any nongovernmental event or organization made by any board or commission of state government, including but not limited to those entities within the department of self-governing agencies set forth in section 67-2601, Idaho Code, shall be approved by the chief executive officer of such board or commission."
Using public money to donate to or sponsor nongovernmental events or organizations is not the proper role of government. This bill could reduce such objectionable spending, but it would depend on the governor or the respective chief executive officers of the state's many boards and commissions refusing to authorize it.
An additional problem with these provisions is that they apply only to a "donation or sponsorship," but not to other ways public money might be funneled to nongovernmental events or organizations such as paying a registration fee to have an informational booth at an event.
Does it in any way restrict public access to information related to government activity or otherwise compromise government transparency, accountability, or election integrity? Conversely, does it increase public access to information related to government activity or increase government transparency, accountability, or election integrity?
House Bill 170 would require the division of financial management to "provide a report that lists all sponsorships and donations made by any department, board, commission, or other entity of state government to the chairs of the joint finance-appropriations committee, the house revenue and taxation committee, and the senate local government and taxation committee." This report would be due no later than Feb. 1 of each year.
While the financial impact of this bill will depend entirely on the decisions made by various politicians and bureaucrats, these annual reports will provide increased accountability. The primary purpose of these reports will be to provide information to relevant legislative committees. The reports will also be a matter of public record, which will allow individuals and watchdog organizations to have a much clearer picture of how public money is being used — and misused — to subsidize the missions and priorities of various nongovernmental events and organizations.