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Brown signs, vetoes political reform bills

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, October 8th, 2013 at 4:11 pm in Assembly, California State Senate, campaign finance, Jerry Brown, Leland Yee, Paul Fong.

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed one political-reform bill but signed several others Tuesday.

SB 3 by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, would have required the Fair Political Practices Commission to create an additional online training course for campaign treasurers. “This is a costly and unnecessary addition to the extensive training and outreach that the Commission already provides,” Brown wrote in his veto message.

The bill also would’ve required the Secretary of State to write a report on what it would take to have comprehensive online campaign disclosure, and Brown acknowledged “the current system – widely viewed as outdated and cumbersome – needs upgrading.” He directed the Government Operations Agency to consult with the FPPC and the Secretary of State “and come back to me with recommendations on the best way to improve campaign disclosure.”

“While I’m disappointed SB 3 hasn’t become law, I’m glad to share common ground with the governor on the need to improve Cal-Access,” Yee said in a news release this afternoon. “I look forward to working with the FPPC and the Secretary of State in finding the best means of making the system more effective. The end goal is for California to have an easily accessible and searchable system that ensures accountability in our elections.”

Philip Ung, policy advocate for the good-government group California Common Cause, said in Yee’s release that although his group disagrees with Brown on the need for treasurer training, Brown’s movement to update the Cal-Access campaign finance filing system “is a step forward to improving transparency in our elections. This action would not have been taken without the pressure from the Legislature, voters, and organizations like Common Cause and the League of Women Voters of California.”

Brown did sign AB 409 by Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton, which lets the the Fair Political Practices Commission develop and operate an online system for local and state officials and candidates to file their statements of economic interests.

A legislative analysis of AB 409 said allowing electronic filing could save the state a lot of money on the staff time and public access that paper statements require, and might reduce errors on the statements too. The Legislature passed this bill with unanimous votes.

The governor also signed two bills by Assemblyman Paul Fong. AB 552 lets the Fair Political Practices Commission collect unpaid fines and penalties without needing to file a civil lawsuit in superior court. And AB 1090 lets the FPPC bring civil and administrative enforcement actions for violations of a longstanding state law prohibiting conflicts of interests in contracting decisions; it also lets the FPPC issue advice regarding a public official’s obligations under that same law.

Fong, D-Cupertino, issued a statement saying the new laws strengthen the FPPC’s authority and provide resources so those who violate the public trust can be held accountable.

And Brown signed AB 1418 by the Committee on Elections and Redistricting. That bill repeals a requirement that campaign statements must be open for public inspection and copying from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the Saturday before a statewide election in the offices of the Secretary of State and the registrars of San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego counties; online availability of such reports has made those office hours obsolete, the committee said.

AB 1418 also makes some technical changes to the state’s Political Reform Act of 1974, in part to conform with California’s new top-two primary system.

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  • RRSenileColumnist

    Be sparing in yr use of “reform” with political practices. This batch o laws smells like a nothin burger.

  • SLtalk

    Personally, I think that there isn’t that much need for SB 3. There is a vast amount of materials online, including decisions of the FPPC on campaign disclosure items. While they’re not presented in a plug-and-play format, it shouldn’t take more than a few hours for a person of moderate intelligence to understand the requirements.

    Brown seems very veto-happy this time around, but this seems like the right call.