Texas Legislature Earns Top Marks for Transparency
Regardless of your views, at least you know what's going on in there.
Whether you’re the Texas Lege’s biggest cheerleader or a consistent protester, the state government has one thing going for it: it’s transparent. It was one of only eight states to receive an “A” on the Legislative Data Report Card put out by the Sunlight Foundation, a D.C.-based nonprofit that promotes government openness and accessibility.
The report card was conceived as part of the foundation’s Open States project, which aggregates state legislative data onto a sleek, user-friendly platform. During their process of “looking at state legislative websites and struggling with the often inadequate information made available,” the team decided to attempt to measure how “open” each state is, they explained in a blog post.
Texas earned most of its points for the “machine readability” and “permanence” of its legislative data. The Texas Tribune wrote that the state’s high grade is primarily due to the legislature’s website, which offers an “easy way to collect data on filed bills during legislative sessions.” It is one of only five states to provide this service.
Though Texas also won points for “timeliness” and “ease of access,” it missed out on “completeness” points by hiding roll call votes. This data is only available through the official legislative journal, the Tribune noted.
Open States’ study did not touch on financial disclosure, but the Tribune added that Texas performs well in that area, as well. State lawmakers are required to provide a dollar amount with their salary disclosures, which is more than 33 other states can say.
Among the other A-students were Arkansas, Connecticut, and Washington. And which states are the murkiest? Alabama, Massachusetts and four others received failing grades.