Today in OpenGov: State of play.


In today's edition, Idaho moves towards transparency around criminal justice algorithms, Steny Hoyer updates his app to track proceedings on the House floor, President Trump ramps up his attacks on the media, and more. 

states and cities

The Idaho state capitol buildingThe Idaho State Capitol. Image credit: JSquish.
  • The Idaho legislature passed a first in the nation law to bring transparency to criminal justice risk assessment algorithms. "Idaho legislators have approved the first bill in the nation to require expansive transparency about the use of risk assessment tools in the criminal justice system. The measure passed unanimously in the Idaho House on March 25th after winning approval in the state Senate. It now goes to the desk of Idaho Governor Brad Little (R), who has not said if he will sign it. The measure is the first in the country to specifically address transparency in the use of computerized risk assessment tools to predict the likelihood of a repeat offense before a judge sets bail or a prisoner is released on parole." (MuckRock)
  • Nearly 300,000 Texans faced problems at the polls in 2018 according to new analysis. "Nearly 300,000 Texans in the 2018 midterms were hindered by problems at the polls in 2018, according to a statistical analysis released Tuesday by an advocacy group. Because of voting machine malfunctions, lack of easy access to polling locations at Texas universities, and the state’s application of some voter registration laws — among other problems — at least 277,000 voters faced avoidable setbacks and problems, according to the study conducted by the Texas Civil Rights Project." (Houston Chronicle)
  • Recent court decisions have weakened Texas' open government laws, but legislators are looking to undo the damage. "For years, advocates hailed Texas as a leader in government transparency. But now they say the Boeing ruling is just one example of a group of recent court decisions that have chipped away at the strength of the state’s open-government laws and made it harder for Texans to know what their government is up to. This year, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are hoping to close some of the loopholes that the rulings have created." (Texas Tribune)
  • A judge in Nevada has ruled that some online publications don't qualify for protection under the state's journalist shield law. "Nevada shield laws don’t protect online-only news sources unless the websites are members of the Nevada Press Association. That’s the view of First Judicial District Judge James Wilson, who determined yesterday that Sam Toll, editor of an online news site, must reveal his story sources to developer and brothel owner, Lance Gilman, whom Toll has criticized." (This is Reno via TechDirt)

washington watch

The newly relaunched Dome Watch app provides updates on House floor proceedings and more.A screenshot of the newly relaunched Dome Watch app.
  • House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) relaunched his app for following House floor proceedings. "Now that Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., is House Majority Leader, his custom-built app for following House floor proceedings needs a revamp. “Whip Watch” is now “Dome Watch.” The relaunch is more than just a name change. Version three of the app includes novel things like video from the House floor, a web app version, new notification icons and more. In addition to the desktop, it’s available for iOS and Android." (FedScoop)
  • This House committee approved a bill that would put pressure on the president to fill IG vacancies. "A president slow to nominate candidates to fill inspector general vacancies would be required to explain why in a report to Congress under a bill approved on Tuesday morning by the House Oversight and Reform Committee. The just-introduced 2019 Inspector General Protection Act (HR. 1847), sponsored by Reps. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., and Jody Hice, R-Ga., would require the president to file a report on vacancies that go on longer than 210 days." (Government Executive)
  • The House Ethics Committee is set to receive a significant funding boost for the 116th Congress. "The House is set to approve funding levels for committee activities in the 116th Congress later this week, providing the largest boost to the House Ethics Committee. The House resolution, advanced by the House Administration panel on Monday night, will authorize funding for all of the standing and select committee in the House, excluding the Appropriations Committee. It is expected on the floor before the end of the week.  The largest percentage increase would go to the House Ethics Committee. According to Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., the House Administration Committee’s top Republican, the increase is necessary as the committee is in the process updating the House Ethics Manual." (Roll Call)
  • Whistleblowers will receive $50 million from the SEC for their role in  $267 million settlement with JP Morgan. "The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission agreed to pay a total of $50 million to a pair of whistleblowers who provided information that helped the agency win a $267 million settlement with JPMorgan Chase & Co. over claims that the bank failed to inform wealthy clients of conflicts of interest in managing their money. One of the informants will get $37 million, the third-biggest payout in the history of the SEC’s whistleblower program, the agency said in a statement Tuesday." (Bloomberg)


The Department of Housing and Urban Development headquarters in Washington, DC. The Department of Housing and Urban Development headquarters in Washington, DC. Image credit: Tim1965.
  • The HUD inspector general is looking into allegations that the White House interfered with Puerto Rican disaster aid. "The inspector general of the Department of Housing and Urban Development will review whether the White House has interfered with hurricane relief funding approved for Puerto Rico, an island still trying to recover from the impact of Hurricane Maria in 2017, as part of a broader examination of the agency’s administration of disaster grants, a HUD inspector general attorney said Tuesday." (Washington Post)
  • The Office of Government Ethics won't certify ex-EPA head Scott Pruitt's financial disclosure over cut-rate condo deal. "The U.S. Office of Government Ethics is refusing to certify one of the final financial disclosure reports of ex-Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, citing the cut-rate $50-a-night deal Pruitt had for a luxury Washington condo. The ethics body said in a finding released Tuesday that federal authorities never resolved the key question involved — whether Pruitt’s condo deal with the wife of a lobbyist was a proper business arrangement or an improper gift linked to a lobbyist who did business with the EPA." (Associated Press)
  • The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has a new head. "The White House budget office on Tuesday tweeted a confirmation of recent news reports that Paul Ray, the deputy administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, is temporarily leading the agency in charge of the Trump administration’s ambitious deregulation effort. Ray, previously a counselor to Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, takes over for Neomi Rao, who on March 13 was confirmed by the Senate as a judge on the  U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia." (Government Executive)
  • President Trump is ramping up his attacks on the media in the wake of the Mueller report summary release. "President Trump on Tuesday ratcheted up his attacks on the media following the conclusion of a two-year investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III that did not establish coordination between Trump and Russia on election interference." (Washington Post)


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