Transparency News, 2/10/2022


February 10, 2022

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state & local news stories


VCOG's annual
bill chart


Shopping for the right college could become easier if a bill in the House of Delegates becomes law. Sponsored by Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, the bill requires state colleges to publish student data on their websites tracking costs, standardized test scores of prospective students, postgraduate success and more. The House’s education committee unanimously approved HB355 on Wednesday. It’s the second year the General Assembly has called for greater transparency from state colleges. In 2021, the body passed a provision that requires greater transparency from a college’s board of visitors. Universities now must provide real-time electronic access to board meetings, and board members must be made aware of public comments before the meeting begins. In 2020, the Richmond Times-Dispatch found that James Madison University’s board of visitors didn’t receive more than 650 comments about its decision to reopen until 12 days after the board voted on the matter.
Richmond Times-Dispatch

stories of national interest

On Feb. 1, attorney Monika Langarica was in a San Diego, Calif., courtroom watching as the Biden administration resumed hearing cases on a controversial immigration policy that requires migrants to wait in Mexico while they plead their case to enter the U.S. That evening, she wrote a series of tweets describing what she saw. The next day, she received an email from the Justice Department that shocked her: The administration asked her to delete the tweets. They claimed she violated a policy against making a record of immigration court proceedings and threatened potential criminal penalties if she committed "further violations." The Justice Department retracted its request and apologized to Langarica after The San Francisco Chronicle inquired about the threat, saying further review confirmed she was not tweeting from the courtroom and thus did not violate any policies.

A federal judge has approved a permanent injunction prohibiting the Minnesota State Patrol from arresting or attacking journalists, which occurred when reporters documented the unrest following the police killings of George Floyd and Daunte Wright. The injunction stems from a class-action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota in 2020. The State Patrol and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety agreed to settle the case Tuesday. The court will monitor compliance with the injunction for the next six years, according to an order signed by U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright. The State Patrol also is prohibited by the court order from ordering journalists to stop photographing, recording or observing a protest, making journalists disperse, or seizing or intentionally damaging photo, audio or video gear.
Minneapolis Star Tribune


editorials & columns


There are not many tree huggers in my part of the commonwealth, but there are huge numbers of fishermen, canoeists, boaters and waterfront property owners who see the citizen members of the State Water Control Board as the forum for a fair hearing and securing minimal environmental protections that the Department of Environmental Quality has on occasion not been willing to provide. That’s why Senate Bill 657, which would strip the water board and the State Air Pollution Control Board of its permitting power, is a mistake.If you favor openness and transparency in government, if you favor checks on bureaucratic power, if you favor a division of powers between the respective branches of government, if you favor depoliticizing environmental decisions, if you favor creating a playing field where the small businessman has the same access to environmental decision makers as the state’s most powerful corporations, if you favor those decision makers being guided by the constitution, law, and scientific facts without fear of losing their job, if you favor any of these things, then you must oppose this bill.  
Virginia Mercury