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Abuse of Power

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Yahoo! News/Providence Journal: Everyone wants something from Rhode Island's part-time lawmakers. Here's the list.

"It targets specific instances when the government has used APRA to stonewall specific requests, like RIDOT's decision to withhold accident data it collects from all of Rhode Island's municipalities," says John Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island. "With respect to the Washington Bridge emails," he said of emails for which different media outlets were charged anything from zero to $450 for the same 236 pages, "the bill would lower the costs by doubling the amount of free search time given for each request, and providing two hours of free time for redaction." "Given that this was the biggest news story in the state," Marion said of the highway bridge closure, "requiring advance payment from multiple legacy news organizations before release of the documents was a case of RIDOT using APRA as a shield in a way that undermines the purpose of the APRA."

San Diego Union Tribune: In Chula Vista, when it comes to public records, not much is public

Sean McMorris of California Common Cause, a Los Angeles-area nonprofit that advocates for good government and open records, said there are many reasons cities should post responses to public-records requests. Activists, lawyers, business owners and everyday citizens can review the postings themselves without having to interrupt city employees by submitting a redundant request, he said. "It also creates a record for the city in terms of litigation," McMorris said. "It induces them to respond more thoroughly because the record is there." In cases of lawsuits, "the city could use it to defend itself and vice-versa." But too often, McMorris said, government agencies choose to direct people into new requests.

The Guardian: How Ohio Republicans ignore voters – and the governor – in power grab to pass laws

According to Catherine Turcer, the executive director of the government watchdog group Common Cause Ohio, which is part of the Citizens Not Politicians coalition, the group has trained about 2,000 volunteers to collect petition signatures. “It’s clear there’s this disconnect between what it is that ordinary Ohioans want, and what it is that the state legislature chooses to do,” said Turcer. “There is real interest in ensuring that we have accountable government.”

Yahoo! News/WCMH: Ohio GOP at odds over future of House Bill 6

“At the end of the day, this corrupt legislation means that we don’t have money we could be spending on other things,” Executive Director of Common Cause Ohio Catherine Turcer said. HB6, in part, gave two Ohio Valley Electric Corporation (OVEC) coal plants a consistent stream of revenue, from Ohioans. “To the tune of $153,000 per day,” Turcer said.

Voting & Elections 01.30.2024

Associated Press: Indiana legislation would add extra verification steps to prove voters are eligible

Julia Vaughn, executive director of transparency and voting advocacy group Common Cause Indiana, said that 30-day timeframe is unfair. She worries the bill could catch people who become lawful citizens and voters whose names are still on the temporary list. “The failsafe has to move like clockwork right?” she said. “And in the real world, clockwork doesn’t always happen.”

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