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Release of employees' outside income divides Minn. lawmakers

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  1. Freedom of Information
Minnesota legislators are at odds over whether to keep information on public employees' on-the-side financial matters out of the public eye, the Star Tribune reports.…

Minnesota legislators are at odds over whether to keep information on public employees’ on-the-side financial matters out of the public eye, the Star Tribune reports. A bill before the Senate would appear to keep that information from the public while the House version supports its release.

According to the paper, the debate began when reporters at The Minnesota Daily, the University of Minnesota’s student newspaper, requested data on the outside income of men’s basketball coach Tubby Smith.  The university "balked at the request, contending that the information was not public," the Star Tribune said.

The state’s Department of Administration, which deals with state laws on government data access, sided with the university and worked to get new language added to a data practices bill that would limit what is considered public information, the paper reported.  That bill is now before the Senate. The House version, alternatively, would require disclosure of any additional income, from the employer or another source. That bill passed out of committee on a voice vote, the Star Tribune said.

University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg told the Reporters Committee that the school is not in fact opposed to the House version of the bill, which would require the school to disclose its workers’ outside income.  However, the university does not currently keep records of how much its coaches make in outside income, Rotenberg said.