FROM:   Kim Alexander, CVF President
DATE:   August 29, 2000
RE:   Calif. Legislature Takes up Free Electronic Filing Software Bill

Hi Folks,

The California Legislature is rapidly wrapping up its work for the 1999-2000 legislative session, which is scheduled to end this Thursday, August 31.

One of the bills being considered among the hundreds is SB 1874, authored by Senator Richard Polanco (D), and co-authored by Senator Ross Johnson (R). SB 1874 was recently amended to provide for a free electronic and online filing system for candidates and lobbyists to use to comply with California's Online Disclosure Act, which provides timely Internet access to data about money in California politics online at

As longtime CVF-NEWS subscribers will recall, the Secretary of State's 1995 Electronic Filing Task Force recommended that free software be made available to filers, in addition to establishing a standard record format that would enable private vendors to produce and sell more advanced software packages that would comply with the disclosure requirement.

That provision was dropped as the legislation developed, out of concern that free software might put the campaign software vendors out of business. As a result, California is one of just a few states with a mandatory electronic filing program but no free software or filing system available to filers (most states with a mandate are making some kind of free filing software available).

Filers -- especially lobbyists -- complained about the burden of having to purchase software in order to comply with the law. In response to these concerns, SB 1874 has been amended to direct the Secretary of State to develop a free, electronic and online filing system. That's the good news. The bad news is that the bill appropriates no money to the Secretary of State in order to provide this system, and it also sets a very tight deadline for the program to be developed, with a program for lobbyists to be made available by the April 15, 2001 filing deadline, and a program for candidates to be made available by the July 1, 2001 filing deadline.

SB 1874 recently passed out of the Assembly Elections and Reapportionment committee on a bipartisan vote, and is likely to be taken up on the Assembly floor on Wednesday, August 30; if passed, it will be sent to the Senate for concurrence that same day or on Thursday. Since the bill amends the Political Reform Act and contains an urgency clause, it requires a two-thirds vote of both houses in order to pass.

To learn more about SB 1874 (i.e. read the text or latest bill analysis), follow the link below:

And, for those of you intrigued by the legislative process, now is the best time of year to watch our legislature in action. Tune in via Cal Channel or drop by the Senate or Assembly some evening this week if you happen to be in Sacramento to witness all the action first-hand.

-- Kim Alexander, President
California Voter Foundation

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This page was first published on August 22, 2000 | Last updated on August 29, 2000
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