House votes to keep confidential names of people applying for public sector jobs

Mar 17, 2017

Rep. Mary Johnson (R-Fargo).
Credit ND Legislature

Rep. Bill Devlin (R-Finley).
Credit ND Legislature

The House has passed a measure that keeps secret the names of applicants for public sector jobs.

The names of the final three vying for the open job would become public.

Supporters of the measure say the state’s current open records law discourages some of the best people from applying.

Earlier, the House passed a measure to keep confidential the names of people applying for college presidencies. Rep. Mary Johnson (R-Fargo) used a recent search at UND as an example.

"The University of Northern Iowa had 5 applications by sitting university presidents, while UND had none," Johnson said. "These UNI applicants were asked why they did not apply at UND, and all responded it was due to North Dakota's open documents laws."

Rep. Bill Devlin (R-Finley) – a former newspaper publisher – argued because taxpayers foot the bill for these public jobs, they have the right to know who is applying.

"This is probably, in my Legislative career, the greatest assault on the people's right to know that I have ever seen," Devlin said. "I can't even believe that we are discussing this bill."

The measure passed 61 to 32. It will go back to the Senate – to see if it concurs with House amendments.