ERIC Number: ED247591
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1984-Jul
Reference Count: N/A
Access to Local Records and Meetings in Iowa.
Since opposition to media coverage of local government can be powerful, a reporter covering municipal and county affairs in Iowa should be familiar with access to information laws. Chapter 28A of the Iowa Code provides that "reasonable" public notice precede all governing board meetings and specifies that the time, date, place, and tentative agenda be included. The Chapter provides for closed sessions only under certain circumstances. Chapter 68A of the code provides for access to most records of the government bodies and to court records. While the code does not specifically state which records are open, it does list 17 types of records that are regarded as confidential unless otherwise ordered by a court or other authorized person, including student records, hospital and medical files, trade secrets, and attorneys' records. Law enforcement efforts often end in court, so reporters need to be aware of what court records are available and where to find them. In addition, a reporter should be aware of privacy laws that govern free access. Sometimes a reporter's best recourse for gaining access to the records comes from knowing the laws governing their use. Despite knowledge of all these laws and procedures, the reporter may still have to resort to litigation and, thus, should be aware of the court cases filed by Iowa newspapers and news organizations. The most recent legislation (a "Fair Compromise on Records" bill passed in March 1984) provides two advantages for citizens who bring public records suits: it puts the burden on the public official to comply with the law and provides that, in the event of an unfavorable decision, the losing public official shall pay court costs. (HTH)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Freedom of Information Center, Columbia, MO.
Identifiers - Location: Iowa