The American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press have declared this week as Sunshine Week. This means journalists celebrate being able to access public information under the Open Door Law.
Throughout the past several years, the Indiana General Assembly has been taking action to bolster government transparency and accountability — and this year is no different. I have authored House Bill 1470, which is designed to increase the availability of state and local government data, while strengthening the privacy of personal information to ensure confidentiality.
Data is becoming more and more powerful to citizens and businesses. This can potentially lead to new breakthroughs making government more efficient and responsive to the needs of the public.
House Bill 1470 would help harness this information by strengthening the Management Performance Hub. This agency would establish and maintain a program to collect, analyze and exchange data.
Government data could be accessed by state agencies, political subdivisions, researchers and the public via an Open Data website. The Management Performance Hub would also perform financial planning and implement efficiency projects, while advising and assisting state agencies to identify and process improvement options in state government.
This measure would ensure that the public can have access to information and maintain confidentiality when it comes to personal, private information.
This session, several bills have been introduced and are moving through the legislature that would promote transparency in our government.
Protecting the freedom of student journalists is the focus of House Bill 1130. The bill would provide freedom of speech and freedom of press protections to student journalists in public schools in grades 5-12, as well as those at state colleges and universities. This gives them the same rights as professional journalists.
House Bill 1622 would require a county or municipality that maintains a website to post roll call votes of the executive, fiscal and legislative body within 24 hours after a vote is taken. The vote tallies then must be posted on websites for a minimum of four years. This will make it much easier for journalists and members of the public to see how board and commission members vote on each decision.
Since 2005, House Republicans have led the charge for legislative transparency in the digital age. Not only is House business streamed live, but standing, conference, and interim study committee hearings are all viewable online and archived. This access is now expected and widely used by Hoosier voters, stakeholders, news media and legislative staff.
The public deserves to know how their tax dollars are being spent, from the Statehouse to the smallest units of local government. These bills will ensure that we are making strides to open lines of communication here in Indiana.
State Rep. Dave Ober represents all of Noble County and
portions of Allen, Elkhart, LaGrange and Whitley counties.
A high-resolution photo of Ober can be downloaded by clicking here.