Local Sunlight


This week I have highlights from Virginia, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey and Alabama.

In Virginia, Bacon’s Rebellion has a great post on the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority asking people to put up YouTube videos about how miserable their commutes are. The NVTA is hoping that the northern Virgina legislators will see them and will create NVTA taxes and fees and enact a statewide transportation plan. The second half of the post asks, since NVTA is a partial state agency, if it is wrong to use state money to lobby for state funds.

Howard County Maryland Blog has an update on the status of legislation that would create a state spending database, the bill just passed the Maryland House and Senate and is waiting for the governor’s signature. Also the Howard County Council has unanimously approved a measure to have a county level spending database created by 2010.

In Missouri, the Turner Report posts about how Gov. Matt Blunt has two siblings that are registered lobbyists in the state of Missouri. I wonder what Thanksgiving dinner is like?

In New Jersey, the Ruins of Trenton has a post on a bill that would allow municipalities and government entities to satisfy public notice requirements for certain announcements by placing the notices online. The bill just passed assembly and is on its way to the state senate. Assemblyman Cryan said it best "With Internet access and usage continually on the rise, it makes good sense to allow the public to access meeting notices and other government documents electronically." I couldn’t agree more, however, newspapers aren’t too happy. Currently all notices have to be posted in newspapers which means government agencies have to buy a a large protion of ad space.

In Alabama, Doc’s Political Parlor has a great post discussing a statement made in the state senate by State Senator Scott Beason. Sen. Beason asked the body if the legislature was “shirking” their duties by having the people vote on laws. Beason said, “It is up to us to look at the issue, study the issue, debate the issue, come up with the best possible legislation for the people of the state – the best we can do. Then it’s up to the people to decide if what we did was right.” The discourse about what the job of the legislature is and how much citizens should participate is definitely more topical now with more participartory tools and the internet. Sunlight has recently encountered this discussion in response to our latest project PublicMarkup.org.