California Legislature gets D grade in transparency report card

SACRAMENTO -- A national study on government transparency has given the California Legislature a D grade for failing to shine adequate sunlight on its operations.

The Sunlight Foundation issued the Transparency Report Card  to show how well state legislative information is made available to the public online, judging states on factors including timeliness of information, searchability and permanence.

California was downgraded, in part, for the lack of detail provided on committee actions that would help the public understand who voted for and against bills. Although last names are provided on vote tallies, the lack of full names, party affiliation and other detail makes it harder to get a full picture of the action, said James Turk, a developer of the study.

In addition, the legislative committee websites do not include lists of who sat on the committees in the past. "They are completely absent,’’ he said.

California provides Web pages for each legislator that includes his or her biographical information, press releases and positions on bills, but when a new legislator takes office, the former legislator’s information disappears, Turk said, making it harder for the public to trace the history of a legislative district.

The foundation gave A grades to eight states for their transparency, including Arkansas and Texas.  In addition to California, the other five states receiving D grades included Oklahoma and Louisiana.


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