07/11/2016 by Ed Coghlan

Political Reform Act webinar set for this week


(Photo Credit: Robert Raines/Flickr)

A webinar this Thursday that will discuss the modernization of California’s political ethics law is drawing interest. The Fair Political Practices Commission and California Forward announced a public review of the venerable Political Reform Act late last month.

The Political Reform Act was passed in 1974 after the Watergate scandal. The law sets out the rules that govern lobbying, conflicts of interest, ethics, and campaign finance and affects around 800,000 elected and appointed officials at state agencies, regional and community governments.

The law has been expanded and amended many times in the years since. The process--which will take about five months--is designed to make the law simpler to understand and enforce.

"While we have some of the toughest rules in the country for public officials and elected officials, the unintended consequence of those changes is a body of law that can be considered overly complex, cumbersome and, sometimes, inconsistent," said Jodi Remke, FPPC Chair. "This process is designed to simplify and streamline the act without weakening it or losing any accountability."

The webinar will feature Chair Remke, California Forward CEO Jim Mayer and Professor David Carrillo of the Institute of Governmental Studies at University of California, Berkeley.

The webinar begins at 10 a.m. on Thursday July 14. To register, click here.

Law students from the UC Berkeley and UC Davis have completed a review of the law and documented issues, options and recommendations which the FPPC staff will include as it evolves the revisions. California Forward will lead a targeted and strategic communications campaign to encourage participation in two rounds of public comment in the coming months.

The project goal is build public understanding and support around the importance of California’s campaign finance, lobbying and conflict of interest laws, barriers and issues presented by the current law, and the value to the public of the FPPC’s work to clean up existing law.

The project is working to attract and encourage participation from academic experts, practitioners, other stakeholder groups, and the interested public to both inform the identification of issues and the development of solutions.

Chair Remke emphasized that the partners will uphold and publicly promote a transparent, inclusive, and efficient process that will build public, stakeholder, and legislative support for the proposed revisions to law that result from this process.

The partners will distill and summarize public input, and provide technical assistance in translating that input into revisions to law that will achieve the intended outcomes of clarity, compliance, enforceability, and civic participation.

"We think through this process we will end up with a cleaner law that is easier to comply with and to enforce," said CA Fwd’s Jim Mayer. "We will all benefit from an ethics law that is smart, modern and understandable."

The public comment period will begin later in July and run through most of the rest of the year.

The Political Reform Act Revision Project is supported by a grant from The James Irvine Foundation.

Categories: Democracy, Elections, Political Reform Act, Governance Reform

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