VIDEO: Why California is modernizing its Political Reform Act
July 13, 2016 by Ed Coghlan
When it passed in 1974, California's Political Reform Act was hailed as a landmark law that regulated campaign finance and government ethics. The nation had just come through the Watergate crisis and Californians acted decisively to create a law designed to keep state and local governments transparent and accountable.
In the 42 years since, the law has been amended and expanded many times and today the law, while still considered a strong piece of good government legislation, has become a bit unwieldy and for some, even a little confusing.
So the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), which enforces the law, has undertaken the task of modernizing the law. It is partnering with California Forward and the University of California in the Political Reform Act Revision Project, supported by a grant from The James Irvine Foundation.
The process, which will take about five months, is designed to be inclusive and transparent and will result in a draft of the revised law to be submitted to the 2017 Legislature.
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.
For political candidates, elected officials and public officials who have to comply with the law, a simpler and easier to understand law will be welcomed.
"We are hoping for extensive contribution from those affected by the law, including filing officers, political attorneys, public officials and candidates and other good government groups interested in this issue," said Jodi Remke FPPC Chair.
California Forward is leading a targeted and strategic communications campaign to encourage participation in two rounds of public comment in the coming months. A webinar will be held Thursday July 14 to explain the project (To register for the webinar, click here).
"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 CEO Jim Mayer. "We will all benefit from an ethics law that is smart, modern and understandable."
In the above video, FPPC Chair Remke and FPPC Chief of Enforcement Galena West share more about the project's goals and how the result will be a streamlined and more effective law.