Posts Tagged ‘legislature’

FOI DAILY DOSE: Editorials urge Tenn. Gov. to reconsider ethics rules, Punjab to enact FOI bill

Editorial argues against lax ethics disclosure rules under new governor

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s first official act was to relax ethics disclosure requirements for public officials – a move the Tennessean criticized in a July 10 editorial.

Under the new rules, Haslam and his aides must provide information about their sources of income, but not about the financial worth of that income or their investments.

The editorial raised an important point: that disclosures of both income sources and amounts allow the public to get a better picture of who their officials are.

Knowing where officials’ money comes from and their past business interests, as well as how much money they are making, can provide important clues as to how they will lead in public office.

Tennessee residents only have half the picture right now due to Haslam’s new ethics requirements. They can see the source but not the amount, but they have the right to know both.

The Tennessean has called for Haslam to rescind his January executive order relaxing disclosure requirements, which would show the people of Tennessee that their right to know is respected in the governor’s office.

FOI in Pakistan: Editorial calls for enactment of FOI law in Punjab

The provincial government of Punjab in Pakistan has a draft bill that would give its citizens greater access to data about their officials and the quality of the public duties they perform – if it’s ever implemented.

The Punjab Freedom of Information Act 2010 has not been enacted into law yet. The government has put it to the provincial assembly for approval – a move that Zahid Abdullah, an employee for the Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives, argued in an editorial is indicative of the government’s desire to postpone the act’s adoption.

Provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah has said his government is waiting for a federal information law to be passed so the provincial bill can complement the spirit of the national legislation, according to the editorial.

Abdullah countered this argument with the insistence that because the right to information is now included as a constitutional right for Pakistani citizens, Punjab should become a role model for other provinces by passing a freedom of information law that reflects this right.

He also called for the draft bill to extend the ability to access government information to all Pakistani citizens. It currently authorizes such access only for Punjab residents.

For more information on the fight to get Punjab’s FOI bill enacted, peruse some of the recent press releases on the Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives website.

– Morgan Watkins

Morgan Watkins is SPJ’s summer Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern and a University of Florida student. Reach her by email ( or connect with her on Twitter (@morganwatkins26).

FOI DAILY DOSE: Executive order on contractors fought in D.C., Calif. universities grow more transparent

In D.C., lawmakers fight back against draft exec order

Bills in the House and Senate could preempt a draft executive order by President Obama that would force federal contractors to disclose their political contributions.

The legislation would prohibit the federal government from both collecting and using data about federal contractors’ political expenditures. The House also passed an amendment May 25 to the 2012 defense bill to ban federal departments from collecting such information.

Obama’s draft executive order has received support from open government groups, but has also faced opposition from businesses and members of Congress from both parties.

Calif. universities embrace transparency (with a few caveats)

California State University and the University of California have agreed to withdraw their opposition to public disclosure of campus foundation finances through a compromise with state Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) and various public records supporters.

While state university officials didn’t want to reveal how campus foundations manage almost $2 billion, the compromise allows them to protect the identities of most donors.

The call for disclosure by campus foundations gained media attention in 2010 when CSU Stanislaus hired former Alaska governor and former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin to deliver a speech at a fundraiser but wouldn’t disclose the amount she received until a judge ordered the contract be made public.

CSU and UC will not oppose Senate Bill 8, which was introduced by Yee and would make campus foundations and other operations, such as campus bookstores, to function under the California Public Records Act.

– Morgan Watkins

Morgan Watkins is SPJ’s summer Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern and a University of Florida student. Reach her by email ( or connect with her on Twitter (@morganwatkins26).


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