Legislative Reform No. 228
State, county, and local legislative bodies owe their electorates a full and complete disclosure of all legislative activities and budgetary appropriations. To do less is to foster the distrust with which much of the public views politicians. Public accountability of state and local legislators should be increased in the following ways: Each legislator's vote in the legislative chamber and in committee should be recorded, including procedural votes, and made a matter of public record available for distribution, including online access. Opportunities for public hearings should be available on all issues, and hearings should be held at times and places conducive to maximum public participation, with adequate public notice. All meetings of legislative bodies and committees should be subject to fair public notice requirements, and with very few exceptions, open to the public. A record of all legislative and committee proceedings should be required and available to the public. To avoid conflicts of interest, legislators should be required to make regular disclosures of their employment and their financial and economic interests. These financial reports should be available to the public. For legislative and other governing bodies -- elected or appointed -- to be able to perform effectively, it is imperative that they be given adequate staff, workspace, research facilities, and financial compensation. Independent enforcement commissions should be established with at least civil enforcement powers; violations of the disclosure law should be subject to appropriate penalties. Citizens should have the right to sue to compel compliance, and all persons suing under any federal or state statute should be authorized to collect attorney's fees if they prevail in any such action. Individuals or groups compensated for influencing legislation should be required to register and file timely disclosure reports detailing what was spent, how it was spent, and the sources of the money.
No. 228 Politics and Government Commission