State Integrity news for Texas from SII partner KUT:
As always, money played a role in deciding the winners in this year's Texas primaries -- money that flows through a system that get low marks from the State Integrity Investigation.
It gave Texas a "D minus" overall on political financing, with the lowest ranking in the part of the study that looked at whether or not state laws are effective at regulating political financing.
The short answer there is “no,” because Texas has no limits on how much money you can give to a candidate.
Read and hear more from KUT - Austin.
State Integrity news for Maryland from SII partner WAMU:
Opponents of Maryland's new Congressional redistricting map are hoping to overturn it in November. They've submitted petitions that will put a referendum on the state's ballot. If voters approve the measure, legislators will have to re-draw the map in 2013.
The process that led to the new map earned Maryland a D-minus grade in the State Integrity Investigation. Overall, the state earned the same mark.
Hear more from WAMU - Washington, D.C.
State Integrity news for North Carolina and South Carolina from the Charlotte Observer:
A study by the State Integrity Investigation, which ranks states by their corruption risk, found that both North and South Carolina public record laws fail to provide an appeals process for denied requests or impose penalties on agencies violating public records laws.
North Carolina’s access to public records ranked 43rd and South Carolina ranked 50th in the study, which also evaluated state budget processes, lobbying disclosure and judicial accountability. Both received an “F” in public access to information.
Advocates for open government say the culture of secrecy creates obstacles for both citizens and media organizations seeking public records. These disputes are often only settled after expensive, lengthy lawsuits.
Read more from the Charlotte Observer.
State Integrity news for Virginia from SII partner WAMU:
When does confidentiality trump the public's right to know? Virginia received an "F" in a State Integrity Investigation analysis of all 50 state's laws and practices related to government transparency and corruption. Transparency advocates want greater public access to police records, while law enforcement officials worry making case files public could endanger victims and witnesses.
Listen to the discussion from WAMU - Washington, DC.
State Integrity news for Michigan from Michigan Radio:
Democrats are calling for a special inquiry into whether House Speaker Jase Bolger (pictured) and state Representative Roy Schmidt are guilty of ethics violations. A report by the Kent County prosecutor determined the two attempted to undermine the integrity of an election.
Their scheme included recruiting and paying a fake Democrat who would appear on the ballot against Schmidt. The idea was, the decoy would not campaign.
Some Democrats have called on Schmidt and Speaker Jase Bolger to resign. Both say they don’t intend to quit.
Read more from Michigan Radio.
State integrity news for New Hamshire from SII partner New Hampshire Public Radio:
Employment Security Commissioner Tara Reardon resigned amid allegations that she hired her daughter as an intern, then had her laid off in order to receive unemployment benefits.The situation has focused attention on New Hampshire's ethics laws, which are weaker than those of many other states.
In the nationwide State Integrity Investigation, New Hampshire received an “F” in ethics enforcement.
Unlike many other states, New Hampshire does not allocate funds specifically for its ethics agency. And the state's nepotism law leaves a lot open for interpretation.
Read more from New Hampshire Public Radio.
State Integrity news for Massachusetts from SII partner WGBH:
Gov. Deval Patrick is at the center of a fight over government parking records.
Patrick has refused to release the records to the Boston Herald, citing security and privacy concerns. The newspaper alleges it's part of a pattern of secrecy in Patrick's office. The governor's office says he and his administration, "are extremely accessible to the public and the press on a regular basis."
Read and hear more from WGBH - Boston.
State integrity news for Texas, from the Austin American-Statesman:
We previously have called on Texas lawmakers to stop misusing fees collected for specific programs in order to balance the state budget.
So we were encouraged this week to hear House Speaker Joe Straus urge his colleagues to end the practice. It was a bit of good news for those who want greater transparency and truth in the state's budget.
Read the rest of the story a the Austin American-Statesman.
State integrity news for Illinois, from the Northwest Herald:
Two new laws will make it easier for Illinois taxpayers to review public-sector salaries and state tax breaks doled out to companies. Both bills, signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn, require agencies to put the information online.
State Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, said he was happy that the bills – of which he is the chief sponsor – were signed into law Friday. “We need more sunshine at all levels of government, including the local levels,” Franks said.
Read the rest of the story at the Northwest Herald.
State integrity news for Maryland from SII partner WAMU:
By the first of the year, financial disclosure reports for members of the Maryland General Assembly must be posted online.
Currently, if anyone wants to look at financial disclosure forms, they have to go to Annapolis and see them in person. Since that can be an arduous task for anyone who doesn't live close to the capital, lawmakers earlier this year passed a bill that would put the information online.
The forms show what employment legislators and their spouses have outside of the General Assembly. That the forms weren't online previously was one of many reasons Maryland received a D- grade in the State Integrity Investigation, which looked at the risk of government corruption in each state.
Read and hear more from from WAMU - Washington, D.C.