Senate Passes Legislation to Modernize State’s Campaign Database

SB 1349 overhauls Cal-Access to make campaign and lobbying disclosures quick and easy to find online

May 31, 2016

SACRAMENTO – The Senate today passed legislation by Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, to modernize California’s online database of campaign and lobbying information.

SB 1349, which was approved on a 34-0 bipartisan vote, directs the state to overhaul the Secretary of State’s antiquated Cal-Access system for filing and accessing campaign finance and lobbying data. It establishes important guidelines for the project, including creating a system that is data driven, rather than form based, and adhering to prevailing standards for search and open data.

The bill is supported by a broad coalition that includes Secretary of State Alex Padilla, California Common Cause, the California Business Roundtable, the California League of Women Voters and the California Labor Federation.

“This is important for the health of our democracy, to provide voters with the information they need, when they need it,” Hertzberg said. “SB 1349 modernizes California’s database so campaign and lobbying disclosures are quick and easy for everyone to access online immediately.”

The legislation prescribes using cost-effective, streamlined and innovative information technology development processes to deliver an improved system faster. It calls for a system that permits future compatibility with local campaign finance data.

“I appreciate Senator Hertzberg’s efforts to fund and update Cal-Access,” Padilla said. “The public and the press should have unfettered access to the flow of money in politics.  Only by updating our campaign finance database can we ensure reliable and timely access to this information. The public has a right to know.”

The bill is also backed by Jim Heerwagen, the main proponent of the Voters’ Right to Know Act, an initiative circulated earlier this year that sought to replace the current Cal-Access system as part of a package of reforms. Heerwagen announced in March that he would suspend signature gathering for the initiative and instead support SB 1349.

“SB 1349 will help California develop the most reliable, up-to-date and easily understood view in the country of the money behind campaigns,” Heerwagen said. “This will shine a light on the flow of political money, help restore civic engagement in our democracy – and it's an opportunity we can't let slip by again.”

Under SB 1349, the new system would allow aggregating contributions from the same contributor through use of a unique ID system for donors, thereby providing the public with a fuller understanding of influence in state politics. The legislation recommends incorporating user-friendly features for filers, such as pre-populating data and electronic signature capability.

“Today’s bipartisan Senate vote in support of modernizing our campaign finance disclosure system, Cal-Access, sends a strong message that transparency and open government are values that all Californians can agree on,” said Kathay Feng, Executive Director of California Common Cause.  “We stand with Senator Hertzberg and Secretary of State Padilla in our commitment to building a 21st Century disclosure system that voters can easily use to make informed voting choices.”

Robert Lapsley, President of the California Business Roundtable, also applauded passage of the measure.

“Senator Hertzberg’s SB 1349 is a critically needed reform to provide public access to campaign finance and lobbying data in a format that is deserving of 21st century innovation,” Lapsley said. “The Senate has taken an important bipartisan step forward by passing this bill that will modernize Cal-Access and empower the public with greater government transparency.”

SB 1349 goes next to the Assembly for consideration.

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Bob Hertzberg, chair of the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance, represents nearly 1 million San Fernando Valley residents of Senate District 18, which includes part of Burbank and the following communities in Los Angeles: Arleta, Granada Hills, Hansen Dam, Lake View Terrace, Mission Hills, North Hills, North Hollywood, part of Northridge, Pacoima, Panorama City, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, part of Sun Valley, Sylmar, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, Valley Village, Van Nuys, the City of San Fernando and Universal City. See a district map at http://sd18.senate.ca.gov/district.  After serving in the Assembly from 1996-2002, including two years as Speaker, Hertzberg invested in solar, wind and electric-car projects; and worked for structural changes in government through the Think Long Committee of California. Learn more at www.senate.ca.gov/hertzberg.

MEDIA CONTACT: Andrew LaMar
Communications Director
Senator Robert M. Hertzberg
Capitol Building, Room 4038
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 651-4018

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