Bill description: SB 1071 would fill a gap in existing law by granting licensees governed by certain licensing authorities eligibility to collect attorney’s fees as the prevailing party in a lawsuit.
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?
This bill would expand the definition of a licensing authority under Title 12, Chapter 1 of Idaho Code, to include a greater number of government agencies. Currently, the definition of a licensing authority only includes a “professional or occupational licensing board.” This bill would change this definition to “any agency, bureau, commission, department, division, or professional or occupational licensing board.” This change would encompass licensing agencies like the Idaho Division of Building Safety or the Idaho Transportation Department, that issue licenses but were not previously included as licensing authorities.
Since this section of Idaho Code deals with awarding attorneys’ fees and expenses by the authority of a judge, this change would help hold more government entities accountable for potentially frivolous judicial proceedings against licensees. If the proceeding is deemed frivolous by the court, then the agency, bureau, commission, department, division, or board that brought the proceeding against the licensee would be accountable for paying costs to the prevailing party.
This bill finishes the job that Senate Bill 1316, from the 2018 session, started. The bill last year made it possible for licensees to be granted attorneys’ fees from licensing boards. This year’s bill would make it possible for them to be awarded expenses from other licensing authorities, like agencies, bureaus, commissions, departments, or divisions.