Local Sunlight

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This week I have highlights from Arkansas, Delaware, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

Arkansas Watch has a post about loopholes in a lobby reform bill.  The author, Todd Sharp, decided to read the bill that was being pushed as a real ethics reform.  The bill says that lobbyists are no longer allowed to pay for meals and travel for lawmakers.  Upon reading the bill Mr. Sharp discovered that the bill also allowed lawmakers to keep more in campaign money they raised and spend that money on meals and travel expenses.  So in effect lobbyists can just give more in campaign donations to make up for them no longer being able to provide it themselves.  Is this better?  I don’t know but Todd Sharp definitely doesn’t think so.  I like this post because it shows how allowing people to Read the Bill can really illuminate how legislation might not be as great as it is being touted.

Delaware Way writes about a state house bill that would require there to be more transparency in school spending.  The bill allows school districts more freedom in spending but has a lot of transparency measures built in to make sure that that spending is accessible to the public.

New Jersey’s Conservatives with Attitude has an interesting post highlighting a story about a company that makes a knee implant device. However, this device was not approved by the FDA until the company and their lobbying firm started to dole out campaign donations.  In 2007 the FDA rejected the device twice so company started donating to Senate and House members from New Jersey.  The pay off was almost immediate as three lawmakers sent the FDA commissioner a letter in support of the knee implant device.  Apparently the device was approved but the FDA didn’t apply tests to it that had done in the past.  Now the situtation is being investigated by the Senate Finance Committee.

LP at New Mexico FBIHOP has an interesting post about the nature of interacting with government.  The post describes how the state legislature is set up to only really deal with lobbyists and how things are made harder for regular people who have their own jobs and life to influence government.

Pennsylvania’s Keystone Politics writes about a letter from the Executive Director of Pennsylvania’s Office of Public Records.  Apparently there have been some issues with the office and the Governor’s office in terms of making public access better.

Watchdog Texas reports about a bill being introduced that “would require the state ethics commission to post online the personal financial statements filed by all of Texas’ lawmakers and local officials.”

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