During Sunshine week, Legislature advances two bills to increase transparency

Bills introduced in both the Assembly and Senate to increase government transparency had their first committee hearings this week.

Senator Scott Wilk’s SB 53 would close a loophole in the Bagley-Keene Open Meetings Act – which applies to state boards and commissions – that currently allows two-member subcommittees to meet outside of public view. A similar loophole in the Brown Act was closed in the 1993. Writing in support of the bill, CNPA told the committee “[w]hen two-member advisory committees are allowed to meet outside of public view, the public only gets the benefit of an abbreviated version of the deliberations that underlie actions taken by the state body.” The Senate Governmental Organizations Committee heard the bill on Tuesday, and approved it unanimously. Bills similar to SB 53 were passed by the Legislature in 2014 and 2015, but were vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown.

AB 322, authored by Assemblyman James Gallagher, would require local governments to post local campaign finance documents online within two days of the filing deadline, and is aimed at addressing the problem of members of the public having to travel to local government offices simply to view local campaign filings. The bill was heard in the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee on Wednesday. CNPA submitted a letter in support of the legislation, and spoke at the hearing to encourage the committee to move the bill along in the legislative process. The committee passed AB 322 unanimously. Committee Chairman Marc Berman, who has joined as co-author of the bill, noted at the hearing that “the bill will provide greater transparency for local campaign disclosure filings by improving the accessibility of those filings.” AB 322 will next be heard by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.