Posts Tagged ‘cooling off’

Assembly Panel Hears Simplified Campaign Finance Reform Bill

By Sean Whaley | 4:29 pm March 29th, 2011

CARSON CITY – A simplified campaign finance reform bill that would require most candidates to file their contribution and expense reports electronically was given a generally favorable reception today during an Assembly Committee hearing.

The Committee on Legislative Affairs and Operations introduced Assembly Bill 452. The bill contains three key provisions from Secretary of State Ross Miller’s campaign finance bills, which the panel reviewed earlier this session.

But some provisions of the other legislation – Assembly Bills 81 and 82 – were criticized at the hearing earlier this month, including a proposal to increase filing fees for candidates for public office.

“And so the idea here was to strip out the three most important provisions that would really advance Nevada’s campaign finance measures and allow them to proceed as a single bill so that if people are hung up on certain provisions of AB81 or 82 these provisions would be allowed to go forward,” Miller said.

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said the new bill was drafted to include those important reform provisions that appear to have the support of lawmakers and the public.

No one spoke in opposition to the campaign reform elements of the bill, although several amendments were offered by lawmakers and lobbyists. The bill will be reviewed later in a committee work session.

Miller testified in support of the bill, saying the current system of filing campaign reports by mail, and in a format that does not allow the public to search the information, is inadequate. Electronic filing would allow Miller’s office to create an online searchable database of the information.

AB452 also proposes to move up the filing dates of the campaign contribution and expense reports so the information is available prior to early voting. Reports would be filed four days before early voting and would be updated to reflect any additional contributions and expenses four days prior to the primary and general elections.

It would also make the Secretary of State’s office the central repository for the campaign reports for all elections, as well as for financial disclosure statements required of candidates and elected officials. These reports would also be filed electronically.

Gov. Brian Sandoval is in favor of the electronic filing requirement for campaign reports as well.

Miller said he is optimistic the bill will move forward, given that leadership in both the Assembly and Senate also support the reforms.

The bill also proposes to impose a two-year “cooling off” period before public officers, such as members of the Legislature, could be paid to lobby the body where they had served. For members of the Legislature, it would prohibit a former lawmaker from being paid to lobby at the Legislature in the next session following their leaving office.

Miller said this section of the bill is not within the purview of his office, but was sought by lawmakers.

Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, an attorney and member of the committee, expressed concern that the cooling off period could affect his ability to represent a client and indicated he may have to oppose the bill unless the provision can be amended.

Miller said he will continue to seek passage of AB81 and 82 because they contain important reforms needed for transparency in Nevada’s elections.

“These are the three major provisions that could dramatically improve transparency in the process, but AB81 and 82 have major provisions that put disclosure requirements on third-party groups and additional reporting requirements, and that is a significant area of concern every election, is who is financing these campaigns, these shadowy third-party groups,” he said. “We’ve got to get that under control.”

Audio clips:

Secretary of State Ross Miller says the idea was to take the three key campaign finance reform provisions and put them in one bill:

032911Miller2 :23 to go forward.”

Miller said he will still pursue the other measures because they contain important election reforms:

032911Miller2 :24 that under control.”

 

Nevada Assembly Majority Leader Says Public Transparency Issues Will Be Major Focus Of 2011 Session

By Sean Whaley | 6:21 am September 10th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera said yesterday he will pursue a number of transparency measures in the 2011 legislative session with an eye towards providing the public with accountability and confidence in how the state spends taxpayer dollars.

Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said Assembly Democrats have been working on a number of ideas since last session, including a two-year “cooling off” period before former state lawmakers and other officials could work as lobbyists.

Oceguera, who is expected to be elected speaker for the 2011 session, said Assembly Democrats want to go even further than some other proposals for a cooling off law to include state regulators and local government officials as well.

“Some of these ideas were part of a bill last session that didn’t make it out of the Senate but made it out of the Assembly,” he said. “So it has been on our radar since at least last session and we’ve tried to refine it and look at what we think we can get passed. But some of the issues we’re going to pass out of the Assembly one way or the other.”

The cooling off proposal predates the recent controversy over former Assemblyman Morse Arberry, who resigned to accept a lobbying contract with the Clark County District Court. The contract was rejected earlier this week by the Clark County Commission.

In announcing the proposals earlier in the week, Oceguera said: “We’re serious about reforming the way Nevada government does its business. Today, we are putting a series of reforms before the public. They are common sense and timely measures, and I will work for bipartisan support in both the Assembly and Senate.”

Among the reforms Assembly Democrats will pursue include:

- Establishing a two-year cooling off period before an elected official can be hired to lobby the government body where the individual served;

- Creating a two-year cooling off period before an elected official or regulator can be hired to work for any agency they regulated or oversaw;

- Putting the state’s checkbook online where taxpayers can see how tax dollars are spent;

- Putting the entire state budget on the web so taxpayers can see spending priorities;

- Requiring all candidates for public office to report every financial contribution, the amount and donor, online within 72 hours of receipt.

Gov. Jim Gibbons has created a transparency page on state government spending on his website, so at least some of the state budget and spending information is already available to the public.

Oceguera said the Assembly Democrat proposal for reporting campaign contributions goes even further than what is being sought by Secretary of State Ross Miller, who wants earlier reporting of contributions and expenditures as well. Miller also wants reports filed electronically so the public can search the information more easily.

Oceguera said he and Miller worked closely on other measures in 2009 and will likely do so on the campaign reports transparency issue in the upcoming session as well.

Efforts to improve the reporting and usefulness of campaign reports have ended in failure in the past. A proposal to require online reporting for most officials passed the Assembly in 2009 but the provision was deleted in a Senate Committee by Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno.

Transparency has become an issue for many lawmakers on many different fronts. Many of those running for seats in the state Senate and Assembly have responded to a transparency questionnaire sent out by the Nevada Policy Research Institute. It asks candidates for their views on the posting of state spending information online as well as the need for a searchable database for campaign contributions, among other issues.

Other lawmakers have previously weighed in with their own proposals, including Assemblyman Ed Goedhart, R-Amargosa Valley, who has proposed a four-year cooling off period for lawmakers and statewide elected officials who want to become lobbyists.

Goedhart also wants a three-day wait before bills are voted on by the Legislature, another transparency proposal included on the NPRI candidate questionnaire.

Assemblyman Joe Hogan, D-Las Vegas, has weighed in with his own plan to change the campaign report filing deadlines to make the reports more useful to voters. He introduced similar legislation in 2009 that did not get a hearing.

Democrat candidate for governor Rory Reid in December released an ethics reform plan that includes a call for a two-year cooling off period before former lawmakers or state employees can represent private interests at the Legislature.

Twenty-six states have such laws. Nevada does not.

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Audio clips:

Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera says the Assembly will work to get transparency measures passed next session:

090910Oceguera1 :22 or the other.”

Oceguera says Assembly cooling off law would go further than what others are suggesting:

090910Oceguera2 :23 are talking about.”