Saturday, March 17, 2007

McNerney, House Pass Sunshine Bills

Gilroy Dispatch: Local Reps, House Pass Four Bills to Mark Sunshine Week

"Local congressional representatives passed four bills Wednesday aimed at increasing transparency in the federal government.

Representatives Mike Honda (D-Campbell) and Jerry McNerney (D-Pleasanton) voted in favor of all four bills, breathing new life into open-government legislation, marking Sunshine Week with votes to protect whistle-blowers, smooth freedom of information requests, and compel presidential libraries to disclose more about their donors.

"These measures are important because they'll help make sure the government is ethical, open and accountable to the American people," Congressman McNerney said in a written statement. "I promised during the campaign that I'd work to change the culture of corruption in Washington. With this week's action plus the ethics reform we passed in January, I'm happy to be making good on that pledge."

The House still has to vote on H.R. 1362, which addresses no-bid contracting. The five bills coincide with this week's annual campaign by open-government advocates to draw attention to a need for accessibility and accountability in the fight against abuse and waste." (source)

Tracy Press: You have right to know, and why

"Sunshine Week is a nationwide initiative to continue the discussion about the importance of transparency at all levels of government and freedom of information. It is about your right to know what your government is doing, and why.

It began seven years ago when journalists in Florida launched Sunshine Weekend, a coordinated editorial effort to enlighten and empower Floridians to play a more active role in their government. In 2005, the American Society of Newspaper Editors expanded the campaign to all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

During this week, media across our nation have admonished the secrecy in bad government and highlighted the examples where good government has let the “sunshine” in.

A success story happened this week when the House, with support of our congressmen, Democrats Jerry McNerney and Dennis Cardoza, overwhelmingly approved four open-government measures." (source)

"The House of Representatives on March 14 passed four measures during Sunshine Week that promote and preserve open government, including a bill to strengthen the Freedom of Information Act.

"Today, Congress took an important step towards restoring openness and transparency in government," said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and a co-sponsor of the bills.

"Over the past six years, the Bush administration has done everything it can to operate in secret, to avoid public scrutiny, and to limit congressional oversight. I am pleased that Congress is reversing this course by passing four critically important good government bills with strong bipartisan support," he added.

The bills passed and the votes were: H.R. 1309 (308-117) to strengthen FOIA and improve public access to government information; H.R. 1255 (333-93) to nullify an executive order limiting access to presidential records; H.R. 985 (331-94) granting improved protection to federal whistleblowers; and H.R. 1254 (390-34) to require the release of presidential library donor information.

For more information, including links to the bills, visit the Committee's Web Site." (source)


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