The people of California are clamoring for more – more sunshine and transparency. It is the mantra being heard across the state.
Next month, Californians will vote on Proposition 42 and whether to amend the California Constitution to expressly require local agencies to comply with the Ralph M. Brown Act (local open meeting laws) and the California Public Records Act. These measures are meant to ensure that the public receives proper notice of government meetings, that they remain accessible to the public and that all public records remain available to the public. Additionally, pending in the Legislature is SCA 10, which would require a 72-hour publication of legislative bills before action could be taken. This would help avoid the last minute gut-and-amend actions so often seen at the end of a session when no one gets a chance to review the proposed bills.
California Forward recently conducted a mail survey where more than 900 Californians took the time to respond to the seven-question survey. “These weren’t random Californians,” said California Forward President and CEO Jim Mayer. “Rather, the respondents are among the most engaged Californians. Still, rather than being cynical, they enthusiastically supported simple transparency. They overwhelmingly supported reliable, frequent and online reporting of campaign contributions and economic interest statements. They believe legislation should be public before a vote. These Californians believe sunshine makes for a great state and good government.”
The responses to the survey questions were very telling, especially the percentages. An 83% agreement to update the campaign finance and lobbying database system; 90% agreement on the availability and use of Statements of Economic Interests; 93% agreement on a 72-hour review before legislative voting and 82% agreement on public access to meetings and records, even without state reimbursement.
Here are the results of California Forward’s survey (see results mid-page in bold).