Governor Mark Dayton held a bill signing ceremony this week for House File 2647, a data transparency bill authored by Senator Dan Hall (R-Burnsville).
The Minnesota Senate unanimously passed the bill on April 28, 2012 amending the Minnesota Data Practices Act section on the public’s access to personnel and salary benefit data. Current law is non-specific about information that must be released publicly for settlement agreements involving payments of more than $10,000 of public dollars. Senator Hall's bill updates current law to state that publicly released information must include “a description of the substantive basis and a reasonable description of the facts prompting the agreement, except to the extent disclosure would reveal information on the health condition of the employee.”
In addition, the provision in current law has generally been applied only to state government employees. HF 2647 expands application of the law to superintendents, principals, and similar education employees, as well as political subdivision employees who are in managerial capacities.
This bill is largely in response to a recent situation in the Burnsville schools where an employee entered into a settlement agreement with the school board to end her employment there in exchange for approximately $250,000. Senator Dan Hall (R-Burnsville) who represents the area authored this bill with Representative Pam Myhra (R-Burnsville) in an effort to address future situations.
“Many of my constituents – parents, local city officials, taxpayers – came to me frustrated that the school board was not revealing why they entered into this buy-out agreement, saying it fell outside the required disclosures under the Date Practices Act. Representative Myhra and I worked at length with stakeholders to construct this legislation and I want to thank her for her leadership on the issue. This bill is meant to keep officials in charge of taxpayer dollars accountable for how they spend those dollars. As a steward taxpayer dollar, I understand that responsibility well and I am optimistic that with this new measure in place, the public will start to see more transparency and accountability at the local level,” said Senator Hall.