Sunlight Weekly Round-up: Oregon may reduce exemptions on public records

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When it comes to public records, different states have different exemptions. What is exempted in one state, may not necessarily be exempted in another. Take an example of  New Jersey. Under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA), State or federal statutes and regulations, Executive Orders, Rules of Court, and privileges created by State Constitution, statute, court rule or judicial case law are specifically exempted from disclosure.  While the California Public Records Act makes available all public information because it believes that “access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person.” So when we see states making an effort to open up their governments even more, we make a note of it. Just as we are doing with Oregon.

  • A new proposed amendment to Senate Bill 41 in Oregon will reduce exemptions that allow public records to be kept private. The proposal was introduced during a conference organized by the Oregon Library Association, where several government transparency projects were discussed, including the Oregon Transparency website and data.oregon.gov which lets you build your own graphs using state government data. Check out Chrystal Reeves blog post as she writes more about the integration of state and federal agency data on Oregon Legal Research.
  • In his blog post “Ethics Laws Potentially to Get Quick Fix; Push For Comprehensive Reform to Come Next Year,” Charlie Harper recommends a comprehensive ethics reform for Georgia that is funded by an investigative Ethics Commission. Sparked by the recent ruling of Georgia’s ethics Commission that declared that gifts and expenses on legislature staff will be exempted from disclosure requirements and cripple transparency, Harper believes that a well funded Commission will restrict lobbyists from influencing the state’s decision makers. Take a look at how he rationalizes it on Peach Pundit.

 

  • Governor Dannel Malloy has a solution for Connecticut’s fiscal crisis: balance the budget with $2 billion in employee concessions. But while writing about an article in the Middletown Press , Jonathan Pelto expressed that he feels that the governor should be more open about where  he hopes to get the money from. Pelto argues that even with the state employee give backs, the  governor will not be able to make up the difference needed to balance the budget so the questionable conclusion is that  the ongoing negotiations between the state unions and the governor’s administration may not be as transparent as they are made out to be. Find details on the New Haven Advocate.
  • State purchasing officers in Oklahoma will soon be able to use a public Wiki to report items that are on a mandated state purchasing schedule thanks to a recently introduced House Bill. Authored by Jason Murphey and state Senator Clark Jolley, HB 1086 will also enable the creation of a website that will help policy makers and the public to monitor state projects from start to finish. Murphey shows how this bill will improve communication between purchasing offices and potential vendors interested in bidding for government business on the House district 31.
  • Proposed legislation in Maryland, House Bill 173 is about to make Invest Maryland — a venture capital program — the most easily accessible website in the state. The program, which will require disclosure of all funds and credits that the state invests in a company, will also provide details of the state’s spending programs, including annual reports from the Department of Business and Economic Development. Megan Poinski blogs that this will increase the state’s public records availability. Read more on Annapolitics.
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