We were disappointed when SB 2130 passed the Senate earlier this legislative session, and we were disappointed again this week when the bill passed the House.
The House did make some changes, but the legislation as passed is still not in the best interest of the general public. It would keep confidential such information as drivers license numbers, addresses, birth dates and phone numbers of people involved in traffic accidents in the state.
We understand the concern for individual privacy, so keeping drivers license numbers and personal phone numbers of those involved in an accident has merit. But keeping secret the date of birth and addresses of those involved runs counter to the state's long-standing tradition of open records.
Newspapers and other media rely on official accident reports from law enforcement to provide accurate, timely and useful information to the public. This bill would make many accident reports potentially useless to members of the media, and in turn, to the general public. No reputable news agency wants to rely on secondhand information or a Facebook posting when presenting news to the public.
We're especially disappointed in lawmakers from western North Dakota who supported this bill. With an alarming number of accidents happening in this part of the state, the public has a right to be informed, and that starts with the open release of necessary information. We wonder why House members such as Roger Brabandt, R-Minot, Roscoe Streyle, R-Minot, Bob Skarphol, R-Tioga, Scott Louser, R-Minot, Andy Maragos, R-Minot, David Rust, R-Tioga, Patrick Hatlestad, R-Williston, Nancy Johnson, R-Dickinson, Vicky Steiner, R-Dickinson, and others supported such restrictive legislation that will adversely affect those residents they represent, and help keep those same residents in the dark about what's happening in the highways in their areas.