08/17/2016 by Ed Coghlan

VIDEO: Modernizing California’s Political Reform Act draws capitol crowd

While legislators in Sacramento came together to discuss passing new laws, a nearby gathering of lawyers, academics, and concerned citizens took place to talk about simplifying an old but vital law.

In the video above, CA Fwd asked attendees about the need to modernize California's Political Reform Act, which has governed political ethics since California voters approved it in 1974. The law covers political activity like campaign finance, lobbying, and governmental ethics.

The event was the second of three public discussions taking place in August regarding the Political Reform Act Revision Project. The third will take place in Oakland on August 25. Register and find out more on the project's Public Input page.

The project is a partnership between the Fair Political Practices Commission, the law schools at UC Berkeley and UC Davis, and California Forward.

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 and stakeholders on language that will be easier to understand, comply with and enforce. 

"We want the Legislature's meaning to be the obvious one to the reader, rather than the reader having to potentially interpret it and come out with a different result," said David Carrillo, who lead the law schools' effort and serves as executive director of the California Constitution Center at UC Berkeley Law.

Over the years, changes to the law have created a complex and sometimes confusing set of rules for office holders and office seekers to follow. An estimated 20,000 requests for help from the public are received by the FPPC annually. The project seeks to decrease the amount of compliance confusion faced by candidates.

“The fact that so many people are confused tells us there’s a problem,” Glendale city councilmember Laura Friedman told CA Fwd recently in a story about local candidates and the Act.

In addition to the discussion events, the first of public comment periods is open. For more information about the project including an introductory webinar, a packet of materials with the latest draft of the act, and to learn how to submit a comment, please visit cafwd.org/pra.

The resulting revised and streamlined draft of the PRA will be presented to the state legislature in 2017. CA Fwd’s work on the Political Reform Act Revision Project is supported by a grant from The James Irvine Foundation.

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

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