Clock Ticking Against Transparency

It has been noted far and wide that the Texas House is moving slower than molasses in January this session.  Here we are, mid-April, and the House calendar for Thursday, April 18 features just 7 second-reading bills and 7 third-reading bills – though many, many more on “local and consent.”  While not a bad thing when it comes to keeping bad legislation away from eager voting fingers, good legislation could languish and die as well.

Waiting in line right now is House Bill 14, a comprehensive transparency bill that would give taxpayers a much clearer idea of what their local governments get up to.  Here’s what it does: puts local government spending and debt online for public viewing;  prevents local governments from using Certificates of Obligation to go into debt without voter approval; requires an analysis of taxpayer value for school district facilities; and ensures reviews of special purpose taxing districts.

Seriously, this bill is candy for those of us passionate about government transparency.

Now, it has passed out of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Budget Transparency and Reform (on April 11).  Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts is the primary author and it has fairly wide support.

A clamor of support can’t hurt to get this bill over the hump, through the Calendars committee and onto the floor for a vote.  After all, if texting bans can be heard and debated and pass, surely there is similar will to get transparency legislation to the floor.

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