As reported in the Des Moines Register today, the state of Iowa is dealing with sunshine laws related to public records issues similar to what the Vermont legislature is dealing with. An interesting aspect to the Iowa situation is that they are looking at the creation of an independent committee to deal just with public records requests even though they have a state ombudsman’s office.
The state Ombuds Office, however, doesn’t have the legal authority to enforce the laws–a cautionary statement about what to consider in structuring a state ombudsman office in Vermont. The article also quotes an Iowan who has made an issue of access to particular records as saying that he thinks the newly-proposed office to deal with records requests “…would stop a lot of this stuff from happening in cities and counties.” That’s what I think, too, about all manner of bureaucratic missteps in Vermont—a lot of it would never happen if bureaucrats knew that someone was looking over their shoulder and could hold them accountable.
The referenced article is fairly detailed in reporting on Iowa’s proposed solution, if you’re interested in such things.