11/29/2016 by Amber Nelson
Public gets second opportunity to help simplify California’s political ethics law
(Photo Credit: Photo News 247)
Californians will soon be invited to get involved for a second time in a project to streamline and reduce complexities in the state's transparency law governing political activities that include campaign finance, lobbying, and governmental ethics.
Originally approved 42 years ago by the California voters, the Political Reform Act (PRA) has been amended repeatedly over the years, resulting in rules that some say aren't accessible even to those with a law degree.
The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) will invite the public to review the second draft of the revised PRA between December 5 and December 30 to aid in the project goal of eliminating contradictory and redundant parts of the law.
This second round of public comment is intended to be part of a final technical review of the document before it is presented the California Legislature for consideration.
The project aims to improve accessibility, compliance, and enforcement of the law without making substantive policy changes. The revision process began with a thorough editing and restructuring by two teams of law school students from UC Berkeley and UC Davis.
The FPPC, in partnership with California Forward and the University of California, released the resulting draft revision of the law for public comment via an online form and discussed in public sessions held in Sacramento, Los Angeles, and Oakland. A wide array of interested parties including political attorneys, ethics officers and others weighed in with their comments.
Over the last several weeks, nationally recognized legal author Professor Bryan Garner has been working to apply his special skill in writing law to the PRA revision. His area of expertise has evolved during recent years as the need for clarity, accessibility and plain language has become more and more necessary in law making.
“These restyling projects are important because they result in good government and good law,” Garner said.