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House Bill 740 — Refugee resettlement, notification

House Bill 740 — Refugee resettlement, notification

by
Parrish Miller
March 7, 2022
Parrish Miller
March 7, 2022

Bill Description: House Bill 740 would provide notification to certain government officials regarding refugee resettlement. 

Rating: +1

Analyst Note: House Bill 740 is similar to House Bill 704, but it adds definitions. 

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 murky, with elected officials often having no clear knowledge about the process taking place in jurisdictions they serve. 

House Bill 740 would create Section 67-2359, Idaho Code, to bring some modest amount of transparency to this process. Specifically, it would require private 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."

Nonprofit organizations that fail to comply with this requirement will lose their eligibility for the tax exemption they normally receive.

This bill offers a small step toward increased transparency, but what is notably lacking is any explicit increase in transparency for the public. One could make the argument that privacy considerations call for withholding personally identifiable information from the public. But at a minimum, the number and origin of refugees resettled in a community should be a matter of public record.

The definitions added by House Bill 740 clarify that the notifications required by the bill apply only to a "nongovernmental organization" or "NGO" but not to "the federal government; the government of any state or district in the United States; the government of any territory of the United States; or any political subdivision or independent public body corporate and politic of: a state or district in the United States; or a territory of the United States."

The disclosure requirements created by this bill should apply to the government entities involved in the resettlement process and not only to nonprofits that take taxpayer money in their work.

(+1)

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