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Colleyville voters overwhelmingly approved a historic reform agenda designed to dramatically increase government accountability, transparency, and ethics.

The council’s newly elected Mayor Richard Newton and Mayor Pro Tem Chris Putnam supported all of the proposed charter amendments. Each amendment passed with a whopping 74 percent (or more) of the vote.

Proposition 5 was the most popular – receiving slightly more votes than term limits – garnering 86.5 percent support. It’s designed to increase government transparency and ethics by exposing potential conflicts of interest and self-dealing.

Colleyville’s new ethics standard is much higher than what’s required for Texas lawmakers and high-ranking state employees.

Proposition 5 reads:

“To amend Section 14.02 “Personal Financial Interest”…(K) to provide that Council and Mayoral candidates, Planning and Zoning and Board of Adjustment applicants, City Manager and senior staff shall file financial disclosure and conflict of interest forms, providing…for the information to be contained in such forms to include certain described property owned in Dallas, Denton, and Tarrant County or property held in trust or by certain family members or business entities; and the name and address of any person or corporation with a contractual relationship with the City and from which the person(s) stated above or family members have received something of value over $100; or the person or family members own more than 2% of the outstanding equity interest or more than 2% of the assets; and such reporting that is required by Section 14.02(K) applies to all of the relationships listed above.”

Simply put, the new ordinance requires the public disclosure of land ownership, business interests, and government contracts held by officials and employees. Lawmakers, local officials, or other government employees are not currently required to submit the same type of disclosures.

Last session, lawmakers expanded the disclosure requirements for business-interests they hold. Unfortunately, it was crafted in a way that makes it hard for taxpayers to connect the dots and identify potential conflicts of interests with government.

That lack of transparency allows policymakers to utilize their offices to financially benefit themselves directly or indirectly, without making their conflicts transparent.

It’s encouraging to see a small Tarrant County suburb lead the way on such vital, pro-taxpayer reforms. State lawmakers should take notice. They clearly have much to learn from Colleyville’s citizen-centered majority and the voters who elected them.

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