There will be no more closed doors for the Iowa Board of Regents if a proposed bill by an influential Democratic Senator is approved.
A bill entitled “The Regents Accountability and Transparency Act,” created by Sen. Jeff Danielson, would direct the Board to a more-publicly engaged direction when making decisions.
Some of the Regent's latest — and most controversial — issues, such as Sen. Tom Harkin’s refusal to donate his papers to Iowa State, and a regent member doubling as a Regent lobbyist and an ISU public lobbyist, were all lacking community involvement, Danielson told the Des Moines Register. That gap between the people and the panel gave spark to Danielson's document.
The suggested legislation would outlaw a conflict of interest in a lobbyist that served as a regent from working as a lobbyist for any school or program under the Regent’s governance within the same two years.
Any proposal in front of the board dealing with $100,000 or more would have to go through public readings at two board meetings before any momentum on the pitch could initiate.
Public forums in at least six different locations would be necessary each quarter, and 30 minutes of the beginning of each board meeting would be dedicated to public commentary.
In an 8:30 a.m. Iowa Senate subcommittee meeting on Wednesday, the bill underwent its first hearing.
According to the Des Moines Register, the Regents were “harshly criticized and strongly defended,” but no decisions were made.
Creator, Danielson, said, “I believe the bill is needed because transparency and accountability are the bedrock of public decision-making processes.”
Sheila Koppin, Regent communication officer, said via email that the board had "no further comment beyond the remarks made [Wednesday] morning by the Board's State Relations Officer, Keith Saunders."
A transcript of Saunders' comments was unavailable, but notes from his statement indicate that the Board welcomed the idea of the bill.
For future development on the story, make sure to check out the Iowa State Daily.