Governor Signs Legislation to Improve Campaign Finance Transparency

“Transparency” may be more than just a buzzword come 2017.

Proposition 54, teed up for the November ballot, would mandate the Legislature enforce a three-day public notice before voting on any bill, eliminating back-room, late-night deals that would otherwise shrivel in the light of day. Any citizen, regulated party or reporter could review and digest legislative amendments to a bill before a final vote is taken.

But the Legislature also can advance the cause of transparency. With the Governor’s recent signature on legislation by Senator Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), voters, political watchdogs and the media will have better and more useful access to political campaign finance information.

Senator Hertzberg’s SB 1349 is a product of almost two years of effort by a diverse coalition including the California Chamber of Commerce, California Business Roundtable, California Labor Federation, and Common Cause, to name but a few.  The common goal of these organizations was to rejuvenate a tired and clunky data reporting system that more often frustrated public disclosure than facilitated it.

This legislation requires the Secretary of State and the Fair Political Practices Commission to modernize the Cal-Access website and portal. The Secretary is charged with transforming the site from a form-driven process, which originated literally from the old paperwork filing, to a data-driven system that will enable searching, sorting, and ease of analysis. Over time, the system will be capable of integrating campaign finance reporting for municipalities.

The new Cal-Access portal will go live by 2019.  Senator Hertzberg and the coalition worked closely with the Secretary of State and the Administration to optimize the often-conflicting goals of expeditious deployment and technology oversight. Recognizing that new technology upgrades are not free, the Governor also agreed to a budget augmentation this year for the Secretary of State to begin work on the Cal-Access overhaul.

SB 1349 was passed unanimously by the Legislature.

Loren Kaye
Loren Kaye was appointed president of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education in January 2006. He has devoted his career to developing, analyzing and implementing public policy issues in California, with a special emphasis on improving the state's business and economic climate. He also was a gubernatorial appointee to the state's Little Hoover Commission, charged with evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of state agencies and programs. Kaye served in senior policy positions for Governors Pete Wilson and George Deukmejian, including Cabinet Secretary to the Governor and Undersecretary of the California Trade and Commerce Agency. See full bio.