Myhra seeks to tighten payout disclosure law

By John Gessner – SunThisWeek on February 15, 2013 at 11:49 am

Rep. Pam Myhra, R-Burnsville, introduced legislation Feb. 14 to clarify the 2012 law she chief-authored requiring more transparency for public employee separation agreements.

The new legislation comes on the heels of a $64,590 payment made earlier this month to Henry Sibley High School Principal Robin Percival. The payment was part of a separation agreement with the West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan School District.

The district has refused to fully explain why Percival resigned or why the payment was made, according to press reports.

Myhra’s original legislation was in response to controversy in the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District over a $255,000 payout to Tania Chance, the district’s former human resources director. It also was part of a separation agreement for which little explanation was given.

Myhra’s 2012 bill passed the Legislature unanimously and took effect last May. Another Burnsville legislator, Republican Sen. Dan Hall, sponsored the Senate version.

“Last year’s separation agreement bill called for more transparency, so taxpayers and parents can understand why large sums of public funds are paid out for individuals to leave their jobs,” Myhra said in a news release Feb. 15.

Her new bill, House File 604, seeks to amend current law (Section 13.43, Subdivision 2) to give more specific guidelines for disclosure of the reasons for payouts involving $10,000 or more of public funds.

Additionally, the bill seeks to clarify which public-employee positions are subject to disclosure of underlying data and to remove language recently identified by the Information Policy Analysis Division of the Minnesota Department of Administration as allowing exceptions for compliance with the law.

“My bill last year received strong bipartisan and public support. I hope to build on that support for transparency this legislative session,” Myhra said. “Based on statements from school districts and local governments, they also want more transparency, and I look forward to working with them.”