Political Reform Act Revision webinar draws great interest

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California’s historic ethics and campaign finance law—the California Political Reform Act—is about to undergo a change—a process that will streamline and simplify the venerable Act. Californians first passed the law in 1974 as answer to the Watergate crisis and in the four decades since, the law has been amended and changed dozens of times by voter initiative and legislative action.

In a webinar on Thursday, Fair Political Practices Commission Chair Jodie Remke shared updating the law has been a top priority since becoming the head of California's political watchdog agency.

“The unintended consequence of 40 years of additions and changes is a body of law that is overly complex, cumbersome and at times inconsistent,” she said in the webinar. “In talking with others and actually trying to understand the Act myself, it became clear that it is a hot mess.”

The FPPC is partnering with the University of California law schools and California Forward in this ambitious project that will result in proposed legislation in 2017.

Students from UC Berkeley and UC Davis law school began to review the law early in 2016, under the direction of David Carrillo, Executive Director of the California Constitution Center at Berkeley Law.

“We found the act to be like a casserole, everything thrown in together,” Carrillo said Thursday. “It was disorganized, with correlating sections and concepts scattered throughout the act. There were dead sections from repeals or court decisions, redundancies, and confusing cross references. It was a lot of work.”

The FPPC has been reviewing that draft and will post it for public comment around August 1.

For California Forward, its work will revolve around getting stakeholders and the public engaged in what will be a transparent and inclusive effort.

“We are pleased to have been invited to facilitated the public pieces of this project,” said Jim Mayer, CA Fwd's president and CEO. “The public and stakeholder engagement parts of this process are absolutely essential and we need those who actually trying to work with the law to weigh in.”

The public engagement includes a number of elements including:

  • Today’s webinar that introduced the project to the public and stakeholder groups
  • Two rounds of public comment
  • Extensive public and stakeholder communications and outreach through both CA Fwd’s and FPPC’s websites, e-newsletters, blogs, press releases and presentations

For news, events and answers to frequently asked questions, visit the project website at cafwd.org/PRA.

CA Fwd’s work on the Political Reform Act Revision Project is supported by a grant from the James Irvine Foundation.


Ed Coghlan

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