House Bill 2159, which was approved by the Arizona Senate and House of Representatives this week will make state employee disciplinary records open to the public. Currently, the names, positions, and salaries of state employees are public records; however, this new bill would create an extra level of transparency.
The bill was created as part of an effort to reform Child Protective Services, which is a state agency. Sadly, three Arizona children died last year while being monitored by Child Protective Services. House Bill 2159 is part of an effort to bring more accountability and transparency to actions of state employees.
House Bill 2159 was part of a series of bills, such as House Bill 2454, which will make CPS records public in cases where there is a death or nearly fatal injury without the need for a court order, as is the current procedure. Additionally, this group of bills is set make other records public, such as proceedings from CPS cases.
The hope is that this series of legislation will shed light into any problems with the system, and hopefully prevent further tragedies. To account for certain privacy concerns, the bill was amended to require all employee phone numbers and addresses to remain private information.
In addition helping the CPS system, this new bill will shed light on the activities of all state employees, not just CPS workers. Of course, the other side of the argument is that making disciplinary records public could create an uncomfortable environment for state employees, one in which they are constantly walking on eggshells for fear that any wrong move could become public knowledge. It’s definitely an interesting dilemma, because on one side, you have the privacy of the state workers, yet on the other side, you have the rights of the tax paying public. After all, your taxes pay their salaries, so don’t you have a right to know what inappropriate activities are occurring on your dime? What are your thoughts?
While there are advocates on both sides of the debate, for now, it looks like the rights of the public won. This series of legislation is expected to be signed into law next week.
Make sure to check with the Free Public Records Directory in the future to find out where these state employee disciplinary records can be found.