When will House Judiciary Committee consider sunshine portal?
When will a bill that would create a publicly accessible database of financial information from government agencies in New Mexico get its first hearing in a House committee? It’s not clear.
Senate Bill 195, sponsored by Republican Sen. Sander Rue and pushed heavily by Democratic Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, has already passed the Senate unanimously, but it has to pass the House Judiciary and Appropriations committees before it can be considered by the full House.
And the clock is running. The session ends Thursday.
The bill would create a publicly accessible Web site database of detailed and up-to-date financial information including tax revenues, agency budgets and investment reports.
New Mexico Foundation for Open Government Executive Director Sarah Welsh has written a commentary endorsing the legislation. In it, she pointed out that in some states, such Web sites have saved money. The bill’s fiscal impact report states that the savings have come from “consolidating purchases, revising their business model, avoiding duplicate studies and contracts, renegotiating existing contracts or subscriptions and not having to respond to freedom of information requests because the information is readily available and free.”
“Additionally, the portal provided lawmakers information about spending that they could then use to ask agencies probing questions,” the report states.
Welsh challenged the House to pass the bill.
“It has been said that government transparency is like mother and apple pie – no one wants to go on record against it,” Welsh wrote in her commentary. “Let’s give them a chance to prove it.”
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