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Bill streamlines politicians' finance filings

Bill would increase public access to reports.

Posted: April 2, 2008 1:48 a.m.
Updated: June 3, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
A central California state senator has introduced a bill that would allow state and local public officials to electronically disclose their financial records, which could eventually allow the information to be available for the public's view online.

A bill introduced by Sen. Jeff Denham, R-Merced, would permit the city of Santa Clarita to allow local candidates and officials to electronically file their Statements of Economic Interests, or Form 700s.

The California Political Reform Act of 1974 requires tens of thousands of state and local public officials to disclose their income, gifts and investments. The law requires filers to mail or hand-deliver hard copies of the forms to state and local agencies on a yearly basis.

"This process is costly, slow and cumbersome for filers and public agencies alike to complete, mail, review, manually data enter, file and store the potentially millions of sheets of paper filed each year," SB 1204 bill read. Electronic filing would "grant viewing capabilities by the general public at the location of the filing officer, public kiosk areas and local libraries."

City council members, planning commissioners, candidates, some city employees, and other public officials who manage public investments are required to file the disclosure forms.

Denham's spokeswoman Stacey Bohlke said Tuesday the new system of filing would also save state and local agencies time and money.

"It's a good government bill and it's going to help increase public access while cutting down costs," she said. "It saves local government costs on copying, processing and storing the documents."

The bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Elections Committee at 9:30 a.m. today.

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