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House Bill 775 — Refugee resettlement, notification

House Bill 775 — Refugee resettlement, notification

by
Parrish Miller
March 15, 2022
Parrish Miller
March 15, 2022

Bill Description: House Bill 775 would provide generalized notifications, after the fact, to certain government officials about refugee resettlement. 

Rating: +1

Analyst Note: House Bill 775 is similar to (but weaker than) House bills 704 and 740, introduced earlier this year. 

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 the jurisdictions they were elected to serve. 

House Bill 775 would create Section 67-2359, Idaho Code, to make some minor increases in transparency in this process. Specifically, it would require nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that are involved in resettling refugees in Idaho to inform certain government officials of the refugees' age, sex, and country of origin.

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 were resettled;" and "the mayor of each city in which refugees were resettled."

This bill is significantly weaker than its predecessors, dropping the requirement for disclosing the refugees' names and "reason for resettlement." This bill also requires only quarterly notifications after the fact, providing no opportunity for elected officials to take action before these heavily subsidized NGOs resettle refugees in their cities or counties. 

In addition to being far weaker than its predecessors, House Bill 775 shares a problem with those earlier bills. It provides no increase in transparency for the public. Do not the residents of a county and city also have the right to know when the government is paying an NGO to resettle refugees? 

Finally, the definitions added by House Bill 775 clarify that the notifications required by the bill apply only to NGOs, 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 small increase in transparency required by this bill should also apply to government entities that participate in the refugee resettlement process.

(+1)

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