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Bill Would Make Public Contracts Public

January 24, 2012, 5:51 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Bill Would Make Public Contracts Public

Contracts for public employees aren't public in South Dakota.

It's an issue that came up last fall when the Sioux Falls School District wouldn't release the contract of Superintendent Pam Homan.

Now, the state legislature is considering a bill that would open up those records.

Several requests to see a copy of Superintendent Homan’s contract were denied by the district because state law only required the release of her salary.

"That was our interpretation of the law and we said at the time that if the law is changed, we will be in compliance," Sioux Falls School Board President Kent Alberty said.

Even though the requests were denied, Alberty supports a law that would open up the contracts of public employees.

"Open records are very important to me. I think that open government, transparency in government, is extremely important," Alberty said.

Senator Al Novstrup of Aberdeen is the prime sponsor of legislation to make public employees' contracts public. He says the bill closes a gap in the open records laws passed by the legislature over the past few years.

"I think most legislators, as we've passed open records laws over the past couple of years, were under the assumption that a government employee contract would be open, and it came to us as a surprise when some people interpreted it as private and confidential information," Novstrup said.

Alberty says he supports the change in the law, and if the law is changed, the school district will abide by the law.

"I'm not surprised by it. I expected that that would come out of the session. We had said at the time that we thought clarifying would be good. As soon as it is signed, if it is signed, we will be in compliance," Alberty said.

In compliance with a law that will make sure taxpayers know the details of public employee contracts.

The Senate Education Committee will be the first to address the bill.

To take a complete look at Senate Bill 106, click here.

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