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Vox Hawkeye A Study in the Intellectual Call for Open Government (and How One State Heeded It)
Unformatted Document Text:  garner the 10 affirmative votes required to send the bill to the full House, State Rep. Donald Avenson (D- Oelwein), co-author of the bill and its committee manager, vowed that the legislation “was not dead” 89 and “predicted a new law would be approved during the 1978 legislative session.” 90 The major bone of contention was that many of the committee members saw the expanded roster of exceptions to the open meetings requirement as providing a harbor allowing “public bodies more ways to close meetings.” 91 Avenson argued that, on the contrary, the reformulation of the law eliminated the amorphous wording of the existing statute which allowed “governmental bodies to close meetings for a reason ‘so compelling as to override the general public policy in favor of open meetings,’” 92 a provision he termed as being “misused and overused.” 93 Avenson further pointed out that the proposed new law also eliminated “provisions permitting public bodies to close meetings to discuss the purchase of real estate, or to discuss the hiring and firing of public employees.” 94 In sum, Avenson tried to deny that the expanded list of exemptions undercut the drive for openness by making the argument that “the proposed bill ‘would tighten up the (reason for closing a meeting) by adding more of them (exemptions) and by making more specific penalties’ for violating the law.” 95 The proposed new open meetings law also hit a glitch in committee when one of its members, State Rep. Reid Crawford (R-Ames), introduced an amendment to “open collective bargaining with government bodies”—a move that gained the approval of five other members, but fell well short of becoming incorporated within the law. 96 Another move, this time by State Rep. John Patchett (D-West Liberty), to modify the law to “require open meetings of the athletic councils at the three state universities failed on a 6 to 4 vote.” 97 89 Ibid. 90 Ibid. 91 Ibid. 92 Ibid (also citing Iowa Code 28A.3). 93 Ibid. 94 Ibid. 95 Ibid. 96 Ibid. 97 Ibid. This was an issue of some moment as it might be recalled the Iowa Supreme Court had earlier that year, in Greene v. Athletic Council of Iowa State University, 251 N.W.2d 559 (Iowa 1977), held that these councils were—

Authors: stepanek, steve.
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garner the 10 affirmative votes required to send the bill to the full House, State Rep. Donald Avenson (D-
Oelwein), co-author of the bill and its committee manager, vowed that the legislation “was not dead”
and “predicted a new law would be approved during the 1978 legislative session.
The major bone of contention was that many of the committee members saw the expanded roster 
of exceptions to the open meetings requirement as providing a harbor allowing “public bodies more ways 
to close meetings.
  Avenson argued that, on the contrary, the reformulation of the law eliminated the 
amorphous wording of the existing statute which allowed “governmental bodies to close meetings for a 
reason ‘so compelling as to override the general public policy in favor of open meetings,’
 a provision 
he termed as being “misused and overused.
Avenson further pointed out that the proposed new law also eliminated “provisions permitting 
public bodies to close meetings to discuss the purchase of real estate, or to discuss the hiring and firing of 
public employees.
  In sum, Avenson tried to deny that the expanded list of exemptions undercut the 
drive for openness by making the argument that “the proposed bill ‘would tighten up the (reason for 
closing a meeting) by adding more of them (exemptions) and by making more specific penalties’ for 
violating the law.
The proposed new open meetings law also hit a glitch in committee when one of its members, 
State Rep. Reid Crawford (R-Ames), introduced an amendment to “open collective bargaining with 
government bodies”—a move that gained the approval of five other members, but fell well short of 
becoming incorporated within the law.
 Another move, this time by State Rep. John Patchett (D-West 
Liberty), to modify the law to “require open meetings of the athletic councils at the three state universities 
failed on a 6 to 4 vote.
 Ibid (also citing Iowa Code 28A.3).
 Ibid. This was an issue of some moment as it might be recalled the Iowa Supreme Court had earlier that year, in 
Greene v. Athletic Council of Iowa State University 251 N.W.2d 559 (Iowa 1977), held that these councils were—

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