Voter ID Law Upheld, Computer Filters Required, Mayors Win Awards: GT's Weekly News Wrap

"The Supreme Court's decision today is a victory for ensuring fair elections."

by / June 12, 2009
Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue

"The Supreme Court's decision today is a victory for ensuring fair elections." -- Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (pictured)


Clean Coal Plant Revived

Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced Friday that the administration is reviving the FutureGen coal-burning power plant. Chu said in a release that the Illinois plant "holds great promise as a flagship facility to demonstrate carbon capture and storage at commercial scale ... Developing this technology is critically important for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. and around the world." Under the Energy Department plan, the federal government would provide $1.1 billion towards the project, while private industry would raise $600 million. Construction on the plant could begin as soon as next year.

Denver, Wilkes-Barre Mayors Win Climate Protection Awards

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, and Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Mayor Thomas Leighton received the 2009 Mayors' Climate Protection Awards, sponsored by The U.S. Conference of Mayors and Wal-Mart. The Awards Program recognizes mayors for innovative practices in their cities designed to increase energy efficiency and curb global warming. An independent panel of judges determined the winners from a pool of 140 applicants.

Ohio State University Students Win EcoCAR Challenge

Friday, Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Lisa Raitt and Minister of Transport and Infrastructure John Baird announced that a team of engineering students from Ohio State University has won the first phase of EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge competition. The University of Victoria placed second in the competition. Students were encouraged to consider a variety of technologies, including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, fuel cell, electric and extended range electric vehicles. The Canadian Government, the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors sponsored the challenge.

IBM Opens High Tech Rail Center in China

On Thursday, IBM opened a new Global Rail Innovation Center in Beijing, saying that the center will bring together the world's foremost industry leaders, researchers and universities to advance next-generation rail systems. The Center's Advisory Board include Judge Quentin L. Kopp, chairman of the California High Speed Rail Authority; Michigan Technological University; Motorola; Railinc; RMI; Sabre; Tsinghua University; and Professor Joseph M. Sussman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

E-Gov and Portals

Arizona's GITA Unveils Web Site, Facebook Page and Twitter Feed

Arizona's Government Information Technology Agency (GITA) unveiled its new Web site, integrating new features such as video and interactive graphics. "The Web site creates a way for Arizona citizens to interact with GITA," noted Director Chad Kirkpatrick, "creating ease of use and interactivity brings value to our visitors." GITA has also launched a Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Virginia Creates Health Exchange Network

Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine this week announced the creation of the Virginia Health Exchange Network (VHEN). VHEN's secure Web portal will connect Virginia health plans, health systems, and state agencies to standardize and streamline health care administrative transactions. By establishing a single collaborative network, VHEN is expected to lower costs and improve overall service quality across the commonwealth. Most private health plans and public payers are expected to participate in the VHEN program, which allows healthcare providers to determine eligibility status, level of benefits, and other critical information in real-time through a secure Web portal.

Michigan Posts Spending

Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land this week posted her agency's latest spending report online and also offered a blueprint to assist other departments in disclosing their financial data. The quarterly reports include comprehensive information such as salaries by positions, payments for individual office leases, contracts, employee travel, utilities and grants to local governments. Land said that posting spending on the Web should be standard practice across state government considering the minimal time and expense involved.

New Utah Portal Contract

Utah signed a new contract with eGovernment firm NIC to manage its official government portal, for up to 10 years. The contract has an initial term of four years with six, single-year renewal options. The new contract was approved by the Department of Technology Services and Chief Information Officer Steve Fletcher and went into effect this month.

Other News

China Requires Computer Filters

The Chinese government this week announced that all computers sold in that country must include the government's Green Dam software to filter out pornography and other unspecified Internet content. China's Green Dam: The Implications of Government Control Encroaching on the Home PC -- a report on the subject by the OpenNet Initiative -- claims that Green Dam will extend the "Great Firewall of China" to the edges of the network, and enable blocking of political and religious content.

Georgia Voter ID Law Upheld by U.S. Supreme Court

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue issued a statement Monday regarding the U.S. Supreme Court's decision upholding the state's right to require photo ID for all voters. "The Supreme Court's decision today," said Perdue, "is a victory for ensuring fair elections. It properly defers to Georgia's policy makers, and it recognizes that the Voter ID Act we passed in 2006 does not impede the right to vote."

Wayne Hanson Senior Executive Editor, Center For Digital Government