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California State Senate Moves Key Transparency Bills

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Thursday, May 31 2012

The California State Senate on Thursday approved a couple of key transparency bills that will both help to make government documents more accessible online, and provide funding for the state's decrepit online lobbyist disclosure system Cal-Access..

The senate on Thursday voted 34-0 to approve an open data bill sponsored by Sen. Leland Yee, (D-San Francisco/San Mateo.)

The body also voted 27-10 to approve a bill sponsored by Yee that establishes a new fund that would pay for upgrades to the state lobbyist disclosure database.

The Political Disclosure, Access, and Transparency Fund will be financed by doubling the fees that California's 2,000 registered lobbyists have to pay for filing forms with the government regarding their activities.

Political action committees and candidates' campaigns will also have to start paying a $50 registration for each legislative session. Yee's office estimates that there are about 7,800 such entities in California.

"I am very pleased that the Senate reconsidered and approved SB 1001," Yee said in a press statement. "It is simply unacceptable to have such an outdated public disclosure system in our state. The crash of Cal-Access not only prevented public access, it meant that government was not being transparent or being held accountable."

Yee's office estimates that the fund will bring in about $600,000 to help to maintain and repair Cal-Access.