Sunlight Weekly round-up: Maine activists join transparency movement

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Earlier we wrote about how Maine was moving towards listening to calls for transparency. Now, we are happy that other open government supporters especially those with grassroot foundations based in the state, have stocked up enough fire to prompt the drafting of better legislation. This is not to say that the journey is over. When we each play our role in our individual capacity, its only a matter of time before the grip of graft weakens and ultimately frees the public to demand for accountability from their government.

  • The Maine Heritage Policy Center and the Maine Civil Liberties Union has teamed up with other transparency supporters to take on barriers to open government in the state. They are proposing a new bill that would improve Maine’s Freedom of Access Act. The LD 1465 will, among other things, ensure that public is notified about public meetings at least 3 days before they are to happen while setting time limits for government to comply with Freedom of Access Act requests. The bill, which recently had its first hearing, was received with mixed reactions from the crowd in attendance, but Sam Adolphsen blogs that most of its opponents were working in or lobbying for government. See how he breaks down supporters and opposers of the LD 1465 on Maine Freedom Forum.
  • The state of Florida has launched a mobile version of its website. Mixing some caffeine with her law degree, Sarah Rumpf tested the site and is raving about how the House of Florida is literally now in the palm of your hands. The site, which lets you navigate session times, committee members and find your representatives, was first mentioned by Peter Schorsch . You can visit the web version here. Read more on Sunshine State Sarah.
  • Rhode Island is now posting their assembly committee votes online. The Committee votes help residents select a committee they are interested in and reveals details of each vote and how members of a specific committee are selected. The votes will be available either the day of the hearing or after, and can now be accessed at this website. Randal Edgar shares more on Projo Politics blog.
  • South Dakota Secretary of State Jason Gant is planning to computerize the state’s campaign finance records so that donations will be searchable by donor. Gant hopes to lead by example (he currently posts all his campaign finance reports online) by changing the presently disorganized form of posting reports from flat, non-searchable PDF formatted documents into a dynamic database much like OpenSecrets.org’s Donor Lookup. Cory Heidelberger, who feels no obligation to play nice to small town politicians, is commending the Secretary for this move. See how on Madville Times.
  • Efforts to review Illinois’ redistricting reform may have failed last year, but David Yepsen is reminding us that there is still time. His post “Consider California, Florida Redistricting Models”, raises hope that if redistricting is done by commissions and without consideration to party registrations or residency, just as the two states are doing, then the likelihood of drawing district lines in favor of one party will be eliminated. Whichever option the state chooses, Yepsen advises legislators to conduct a transparent process that restores public trust from the voters. More on A Tie to Politics.
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