Monday, March 2, 2009

A Sunshine Bill Passes the Senate

It's true that major ethics bills -- such as those that would create a state ethics commission and establish campaign contribution limits -- seem trapped like Elisabeth Fritzl in the Senate Rules Committee.

But the full Senate over the weekend did pass one bill that would bring a little more sunlight into campaign finance reports. That's Sen. Peter Wirth's SB128, which would require campaign finance reports to be filed twice during non-election years. As it stands now, in off years there's just one report required in May -- and none required until the May of the next election year.

The Senate on Saturday passed it 37 to 3.

That's good, but there's still more that needs to be done with campaign-finance reports, such as requiring contributors to list their employers.

UPDATE: As Kate just noted, the House, with virtually no debate, passed the open conference committees bill. The House always votes this way. It's the Senate where the bill always dies.

Several months ago I predicted that this would be the year the Legislature would vote to open conference committees. In recent days, I haven't maintained that optimism.


There's some interesting items on today's Senate calendar.

These include:

* Sen. Steve Neville's bill (SB460) to change the make-up of the State Investment Council, which I wrote about a few weeks ago.

*Sen. Richard Martinez's bill (SB330). which would allow ATMs in casinos.

* Sen. Mary Kay Papen's bill to consolidate the Regional Housing Authorities.

UPDATE: Papen's bill passed unanimously, Neville's passed 36-2 with little discussions. Martinez's bill wasn't heard.