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It kind of feels like dispensing praise for not robbing a bank, but hey, in today’s North Carolina political world , we’ll take what we can get.

Accordingly, the House of Representatives deserves a sincere ‘attaboy and ‘attagirl for passing legislation this week to require electronic records filing by most local and state candidates and political committees. The provision was watered down somewhat and doesn’t go into effect for three years, but it’s better than nothing. As the good people at the Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform noted with justifiable pride:

“The North Carolina Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform is commends the NC House for passing a bill today to require electronic filing of campaign reports.  All political campaigns and committees raising and/or spending more than $5,000 will be required to submit electronic reports to the NC Board of Elections beginning January 1, 2017.

The Coalition has been working for over five years to get electronic filing which will make it easier for citizens to see how much money candidates raise and from whom.  It will save the state money because state employees will no longer have to key in data from handwritten or typed reports.
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ICYMI, the Wilmington Star-News hits the nail on the head with this editorial on transparency in charter schools. After noting efforts by local charter school boss and all-purpose right-wing crusader Baker Mitchell to keep details of his Roger Bacon Academy secret, the editorial says this:

“The state Senate is considering a bill that would make it abundantly clear that Mitchell and other charter school owners and operators are bound by North Carolina’s public records and open-meetings laws. Period. The Senate Education Committee on Wednesday passed the bill that clarifies that point, as well as one that is intended to ensure that charter school proposals are not rejected arbitrarily.

But some Honorables have made noise about deleting the disclosure provision – the one that is supposed to assure taxpayers that their education dollars are being spent to educate children, not to enrich private companies being paid by the state to compete with public schools.

They should leave it in, and Gov. Pat McCrory should refuse to sign any bill that does not unequivocally state that charter schools, funded overwhelmingly by taxpayers’ money, are subject to the same disclosure rules as “other” public schools.

Of all people, Republican lawmakers who rode into office decrying wasteful government spending surely recognize that the best remedy for that thing they so despise is transparency – especially when it comes to how tax dollars are spent.”

Read the entire editorial by clicking here.

It looks like state legislators may be taking their cue from North Carolina Secretary of Health and Human Services Aldona Wos on an important issue: public access to government information.

A few weeks back, as you will recall,  Wos solemnly informed reporters that transparency can be “dangerous” in government. Today, the state Senate put Wos’ philosophy into action by passing legislation to do away with public notice requirements for several local governments.

WRAL.com has the story: Read More

The NC House and Senate gather in Raleigh Wednesday for a one-day meeting to elect officers and adopt rules for the 2013 session. The organizational gathering will allow the members to “hit the ground running” when they reconvene on January 30th.

The one-day session was also part of the motivation for Pat McCrory taking the oath of office last Saturday. McCrory wanted to officially be North Carolina’s Governor when lawmakers came to town.

Jane Pinsky with NC Coalition for Government and Lobbying Reform says while the capital city is filled with plenty of new political faces, she is hopeful there will be greater transparency in both Gov. McCrory’s administration and the new General Assembly.

Pinsky shared her thoughts on News & Views with Chris Fitzsimon. Click below for a portion of that radio interview, or download a podcast of the full segment from the NC Policy Watch website:

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The Center for Public Integrity, in collaboration with Global Integrity and Public Radio International, just released an eye-opening “State Integrity Investigation” that assesses all states’ transparency, accountability and anti-corruption mechanisms. The data-driven ranking system gave five states a B grade; 19 states received a C; 18 states received a D; and eight states earned an F. North Carolina received a C- and is a featured example in the investigation – conflicts of interest in the billboard law as well as the lack of sanctions for lobbyists who fail to register. Read More