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Delaware open government efforts fall between the cracks

May 3, 2013

Delaware, which received a C- grade for transparency and open government in this year's CalPIRG ranking, has been taking steps towards improving. However, due to myriad other issues taking place in the state, including legislation related to gun control, marriage equality and capital punishment, the transparency bills have been largely ignored.

According to WHYY Newsworks, five bills were introduced in the state to foster open and transparent government efforts and increase regulations regarding financial disclosure and other needs, such as barring officials from picking up second state jobs - known as "double-dipping" - or reporting on lobbyist activities. One matter being address is the ability for legislators to shift into a lobbying role after retiring from office.

"Legislative Hall should not be a training ground for a career as a lobbyist," Senator Gerald Hocker, a republican from Ocean View, Delaware, told the Cap Gazette. "Certainly, former lawmakers can be effective lobbyists, but there needs to be a substantial cooling off period before such a transition occurs."

The bills would requite officials to wait a minimum of two years before acting as lobbyist, and require both lobbyists and legislators to report any gifts received or given valued over $50.

Open government is a critical consideration these days, in the age of technology and the internet, and some are unhappy that these bills have been largely ignored in favor of more media-favored topics. Many of these bills were presented to the Delaware General Assembly in the last and are being revisited.

"We hope there is the political will to enact these measures this time around," House Minority Leader Danny Short, a republican from Seaford, Delaware, said, according to the news source. "I believe the public wants to be assured that legislators are putting in place certain safeguards to allow for greater transparency and efficiency."

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