08/08/2016 by Ed Coghlan

Public now has chance to help modernize California’s Political Reform Act


(Photo Credit: John Guenther/CAFwd)

The public can now weigh in on how to make California’s historic Political Reform Act easier to understand and more consistent. 

The first of two public comment periods is now open as part a new project to ensure California's 42-year-old political reform law is modernized for the next generation of political participation and technology. 

The Political Reform Act--now four decades old--is the cornerstone body of law that governs political activity in California: campaign finance, lobbying, and governmental ethics. It was first adopted by voters in 1974 as Proposition 9. It has been amended several times through voter initiative and dozens of other times by the Legislature. The result is a body of law that can be hard to understand, overly complex, and inconsistent.

The Fair Political Practices Commission—which enforces the law—has partnered with California Forward and the University of California Berkeley School of Law and the University of California Davis School of Law to conduct a comprehensive review and revision of the Act to ensure decades of amendments are given clarity and continuity. 

Informed by work done at the law schools, the FPPC has prepared a baseline revision of the Political Reform Act as a starting point to engage the public on language that will be easier to understand, comply with and enforce.

"Now it's time for the public to contribute by participating," said CA Fwd President and CEO Jim Mayer. CA Fwd is working to get stakeholders and the public involved in a transparent and inclusive effort that is key to the project's success.

Find out more about how to get involved and submit comments on the Public Input page for the Revision Project.

In addition to the public comment period being open, the FPPC and its partners will hold small group discussion in August to help broaden the discussion about how to modernize and simplify the act.

Three meetings are currently scheduled for August. Please CLICK HERE to register for any one of these meetings:

Thursday, August 11 at 1:00-2:30 pm
Los Angeles City Hall, Room 1060 (10th Floor)
200 North Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Tuesday, August 16 at 1:00-2:30 pm
Fair Political Practices Commission, 8th floor hearing room
428 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

Thursday, August 25 at 1:00-2:30 pm
Oakland City Hall, Hearing Room 4 (2nd floor)
1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza
Oakland, CA 94612

As the FPPC says about the PRA: “California continues to have some of the toughest governmental ethics laws in the country, however the current condition of the Act raises several concerns. When the Commission confronts public officials with allegations of misconduct, they have used the complexity of the Act as a justification for their noncompliance. Additionally, potential candidates in smaller races have been discouraged from running when faced with either navigating the intricate rules alone or hiring a professional treasurer to assist them. This often-repeated narrative may diminish the significance of California’s strong ethical rules.”

Categories: Democracy, Political Reform Act, Tech-enhanced Government, Accountability, Transparency, Governance Reform, Accountability, Elections, Transparency

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