An Iowa Republican senator introduced a piece of legislation Tuesday that would restrict the powers of the Iowa State Auditor’s office.
SF 478 would “auditor of state shall not have access to the income tax returns of individuals, or to an individual’s name or residential address from a reportable disease report under section 139A.3, medical records, academic information, or other similar information that an individual would reasonably expect to be kept private.”
However, the amendment to that bill introduced by Sen. Mike Bousselot (R-Ankeny) expands the restrictions of what information the state auditor’s office has access to. Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand is the only statewide Democrat in office in Iowa after last fall’s election.
Besides not having access to tax returns, medical records, and academic information, the amendment restricts Sand’s office from having access to:
- Criminal identification files from law enforcement agencies.
- Ongoing law enforcement investigative reports.
- “School corporations” or “educational institutes” that maintain student records.
- “Records which represent and constitute the work product of an attorney and which relate to litigation or claims made by or against a public body.”
- And much more.
Additionally, the entity that is being audited has to agree to the listed items for which it is being audited. If an entity does agree to the terms of the audit, the information would not be publicly released unless the entity agrees to it.
Lastly, this bill prevents “Any litigation between constitutional and statutory offices, administrative departments, commissions or boards of the executive branch of state government is prohibited.”
Essentially, these changes would significantly reduce the state auditor’s office to act as a watchdog over taxpayer dollars.
According to the Iowa Legislative Service Agency (LSA), “The Auditor of State is required by law to annually examine the books, accounts, and records of every state department and agency and conduct or arrange financial audits of every local governmental body receiving state funds, including counties, cities, and school districts.
“The Auditor ensures that government is open and accountable to its citizens by providing independent, accurate, and timely audits of the financial operations of Iowa’s state and local governments.”
The amendment was introduced moments before the Iowa Senate was set to debate the original bill.
Action was deferred on the bill and the amendment on Tuesday so that Iowa Senate Democrats would have time to craft an amendment.
This is a developing story.
by Ty Rushing
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