California, Illinois Add Transparency Measures


Legislators in California and Illinois are working on transparency measures that would bring more of the public’s business out in the open. Yesterday, both houses of the Illinois statehouse passed a measure that will require state agencies to ensure that more information gets on to the state transparency portal faster. In California, a package of bills, known as the California Accountability in Public Service, or CAPS Act were proposed.

The Illinois bill currently on the Governor’s desk will not only compel state agencies to release updated information more quickly, it also establishes a position in the governor’s office to go out and collect data from agencies.

The bill is the result of existing open data practices at state agencies which leave a little to be desired. The state has a Transparency and Accountability Portal, but information on there isn’t updated all that frequently even though both parties support greater government transparency. The governor is expected to sign the bill into law shortly.

The California package sponsored by California Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and Senator Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) aims to increase transparency and goes so far as to ban gifts from lobbyists. One bill would also ban fundraisers at lobbyists homes. Campaign finance reporting would also be accelerated from semi-annually to quarterly.

“These bills are some of the most significant reforms to ethics laws in 20 years. The Commission supports greater disclosure and increased transparency for all public officials. We have, and will continue to work with the Legislature on these major improvements to governmental ethics,” said Gary Winuk, Chief of Enforcement, Fair Political Practices Commission.