Bill Description: House Bill 704 would provide notification to certain government officials regarding refugee resettlement.
Does it in any way restrict public access to information related to government activity or otherwise compromise government transparency or accountability? Conversely, does it increase public access to information related to government activity or increase government transparency or accountability?
Under current law, the refugee resettlement process is quite murky, with elected officials often having no clear knowledge about the process taking place in jurisdictions they were elected to serve.
House Bill 704 would create Section 67-2359, Idaho Code, to provide some minor increases in transparency to this process. Specifically, it would require organizations that are involved in resettling refugees to inform certain government officials of the "refugee's name, age, sex, country of origin, and reason for resettlement."
This information will be provided to the governor; the director of the department of labor; the director of the department of health and welfare; "the board of county commissioners of the county in which the refugee has or will be resettled;" and "as applicable, the mayor of the city in which the refugee has or will be resettled."
Organizations that fail to comply with this requirement will lose their eligibility for the tax exemption they normally receive.
This is a small step toward increased transparency, but what is notably lacking is any explicit increase in transparency for the public. While it might be justified to withhold some of the information listed above from the public in the name of protecting privacy, at minimum, the number and origin of refugees resettled in a community should be a matter of public record.
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