OCBC’s Government Transparency Bill Signed by Gov. Brown

For the first time in its history, OCBC is a principal sponsor of a bill in the California legislature — and that bill was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on September 6, 2013. OCBC, working in partnership with Senator Leland Yee, Ph.D. (D), San Francisco wrote this legislation to achieve greater public transparency from local public boards, commissions and other local regulatory agencies. As a matter of practice, many local government agencies have resisted public requests for recordation and publishing of individual member votes. OCBC’s Bryan Starr, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, testified in support of SB 751 on May 1 and it was successfully passed out of the Senate unanimously 39-0 on May 28, 2013. The bill was passed unanimously by the Assembly and was sent back to the Senate for concurrence with amendments. The bill has been passed by both houses and the amendments have been concurred in.

For example, the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) publishes only the number of ayes or noes in a given vote on the minutes. This practice is frustrating for organizations like OCBC and members of the public that have an interest in how individual members of a given agency vote on specific issues. SB 751 remedies this issue by amending The Ralph M. Brown Act — California’s open meeting law. The law’s intent is that the actions of public commissions, boards and councils in California be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly (Government Code section 54950). SB 751 requires that all votes be individually recorded and published for public review. It’s important for the public to hold voting members of a legislative body accountable for their votes. SB 751 increases transparency and makes accountability possible. For more information, Bryan Starr, Sr. Vice President, Government Affairs.

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