Ethics Reform and
Transparency in government is crucial in terms of maintaining the public’s trust in government. To that end, several reforms provided more sunlight on the elected officials who serve that trust.
House Bill 2677 updates current law that prohibits former candidates and officeholders from using campaign contributions as political expenditures that amount to contributions to other candidates, officeholders, or political committees. The bill updates language to include in this prohibition a person acting on the registrant’s behalf. It also makes clear that this prohibition applies to political contributions accepted by candidates, officeholders, and political committees. The bill would prohibit a person who makes or authorizes a political contribution or direct campaign expenditure from political contributions from engaging in activities that require the person to register as a lobbyist for two years after the date the person makes the contribution or expenditure.
House Bill 2179 makes it easier to remove a member of an appraisal review board (ARB) for certain unacceptable behavior by removing “clear and convincing” as the evidentiary threshold for misconduct.
Senate Bill 943 makes information relating to contracts by governmental bodies and vendors subject to open records laws. SB 943 will empower the public to obtain information critical to holding elected officials accountable, such as the price of contracts, deadlines for completing them, and the identity of the contracting parties.
Senate Bill 944 makes several changes that will improve the public’s ability to successfully make public information requests. For example, the bill requires current and former officers or employees of a governmental body who maintain public information on a private device to transfer that information to the governmental body for preservation or to preserve the information in its original form on the privately-owned device. The bill also authorizes governmental bodies to designate an email and a physical address for public information requests, and requires the Attorney General to create a public information request form which governmental bodies may then use.
House Bill 368 expressly allows the use of legislatively produced audio and video in political advertising, which helps hold elected officials accountable for what they say and do on the House and Senate floors.