Dear Governor Holcomb,

Veto HEA 1338.

I hope this message finds you in good health and spirits. My name is Zachary Baiel and I proudly serve as President of the Indiana Coalition for Open Government, a network of citizens, journalists, academics, and open government educators and advocates in Indiana.

I am writing to express my concerns regarding HEA 1338 and ask for your veto of the bill.

While I deeply respect the legislative process and the challenges involved in balancing diverse interests, I believe our common goal is to cultivate a government in Indiana that is transparent, accountable, and truly representative of our people.

The recent amendments to HEA 1338, particularly those affecting the Public Access Counselor (PAC) and adjustments to the Open Door Law, require that I must share the impact these changes will have on our state’s transparency and accountability under the Access to Public Records Act (APRA) and Open Door Law (ODL).

Transforming the PAC position to at-will employment will gravely affect its independence and the crucial role it plays in upholding the principles of open government in the Hoosier state. The ability of the PAC to provide impartial oversight is foundational to maintaining public trust and ensuring that the APRA and ODL continue to serve their intended purpose of promoting transparency, accountability, and a representative government in Indiana.

Moreover, the adjustments made to the Open Door Law, particularly those that will limit public access to meetings of committees appointed by governing bodies, moves us away from the greater openness and transparency we must preserve and expand.

Such changes risk making governmental operations less visible to the citizens of Indiana, eroding trust, decreasing public engagement, and make the citizenry less informed of the government that represents them.

The foundational aim of HEA 1338 to enhance public meeting decorum is understandable. However, the inclusion of provisions that could potentially narrow the scope of transparency and accountability through arbitrary rules prompts serious concern. This is particularly true regarding the exclusions of certain bodies from the new sections of the Open Door Law, which warrants a closer examination.

Given these considerations, I humbly request that you veto HEA 1338. I believe that by identifying the root causes for the impetus behind these measures and addressing them head on, we can ensure that any future legislation fully aligns with our shared commitment to fostering an open, transparent, and accountable government.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my perspective on this critical issue. I remain hopeful for constructive dialogue and am excited to support efforts that reinforce the pillars of transparency and accountability in our state.

Warm regards,

Zachary Baiel
Indiana Coalition for Open Government

Similar letters / media asking for Governor Holcomb to veto HEA 1338:

LarryInFishers: The governor, his veto power and HB1338

If Governor Holcomb vetoes this bill due to public pressure, members of the legislature would be less likely to override the veto. No guarantee, but a possible outcome if the public responds.

I believe it is worth the risk to urge the governor to veto this legislation. If that happens, the second phase would be to let members of the General Assembly know where the public stands on this issue.The House concurred on the Senate bill Wednesday in a 58-36 vote. My last hope is that Gov. Eric Holcomb has the courage to stand up and veto the bill.

Indiana Capital Chronicle: Public access counselor bill fails on process and policy

The House concurred on the Senate bill Wednesday in a 58-36 vote. My last hope is that Gov. Eric Holcomb has the courage to stand up and veto the bill.

Indiana Citizen: HB 1338 with new limits on public access counselor passes Indiana Senate, returns to House

Zachary Baiel, president of the Indiana Coalition for Open Government, said he is encouraging his group to call their representatives and senators to express their concerns. Also, he is telling his organization’s members to contact Gov. Eric Holcomb and ask him to veto HB 1338.