This coming Monday, the Senate State Affairs Committee will conduct a hearing for SB 445, a commonsense reform that will improve transparency in regards to how political subdivisions spend taxpayer dollars lobbying the state legislature.
Currently, public access to any information regarding tax-funded lobbying expenditures is at the discretion of the political subdivision making them – which allows abusive local governments to obfuscate both the intention and the intensity of the advocacy efforts in question.
Some local governments provide the information willingly – but many entities with taxing authority do not. In many cases, this makes the process of accessing the information more expensive and inconvenient. In the worst examples, it results in citizens being denied access entirely.
SB 445 requires that these advocacy expenditures be brought to a vote by the subdivision’s governing board – i.e. a city council – as a standalone item in a public meeting. This not only serves to make public officials directly accountable for these efforts, but also shines light onto what exactly those actions are by simply bringing them into public discourse.
All too often, local governments spend coercively taken tax-dollars advocating for legislative efforts that are at direct odds with the interests of the taxpayers who fund them. Senate Bill 445, quite simply, will bring some accountability to that process by shining a light on what those expenditures are and publicly tie those expenditures to the officials making them.