McLean delegate Barbara Comstock is introducing two bills we find particularly noteworthy.
One is called the Government Transparency Act and it attempts to create a website that would allow users to search for and aggregate various information, like
(i) individual or specific appropriations or budget items, (ii) state agency spending and procurement data, (iii) financial disclosure statements, (iv) audit and state agency performance reports, and (v) contact information for public records access purposes.
The bill sets a deadline of July 1, 2012.
Several legislators have tried over the years (Senators Cuccinelli and Herring, and Del. Cline, for example), but have had to be content with less ambitious versions than they originally introduced, but not for lack of trying. Arguments against the full measures offered before were usually about cost and feasibility.
We'd like to see Comstock's bill succeed in total and hope cost and feasibility won't again delay this important spending-oversight mechanism.
Comstock has also introduced a journalist's shield law. The bill defines what a journalist is, which makes some in the media uncomfortable, but the definition is pretty broad.
In general, VCOG supports shield laws for reporters, knowing that often times government employees will talk to reporters about the inner workings of government only on a promise of anonymity. If the promise is compromised, future employees may hesitate to talk to reporters.
Tell us what you think about the GTA and the shield law by leaving a comment below.