by Pam Greenberg
The Montana Legislature is offering its constituents food for thought by posting its 2009 calendar of special interest group-sponsored brunches and mixers online for the first time.
The electronic posting of the Legislature's social calendar strengthens openness in government, said House Speaker Bob Bergren.
"We want to make sure this (legislative session) is a transparent process," Bergren said.
He said it's also better than a paper calendar for keeping the state's 150 legislators informed.
The article mentions New Mexico and Nevada as other states that post social calendars, but social calendars also are available online from the Arkansas Senate and the Colorado, Iowa and Oregon legislatures. (Let us know if there are others we missed.) The practice may be part of a growing transparency movement, although the Arkansas Senate first posted the social calendar on its web site back in 1997.
Peggy Kern's article, "The Influence Business," in this month's State Legislatures magazine, discusses how lobbyists are now facing stricter regulations than ever before. Reporting and disclosure is a theme in many of the calls for reform.