Politics Magazine

Press – Donnelly Bill to Prevent Kickbacks from Public Access to Regulations

Posted on the 26 February 2014 by Jim Winburn @civicbeebuzz

The following is an announcement from Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks:

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly introduced AB 1612, which will allow for proper access to the many regulations that unfairly burden businesses and individuals in California.

Under the status quo, the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) is responsible for reviewing and approving all new regulations passed by the state. However, OAL allows a private contractor to profit from all regulations because the same government agency holds copyright authority over those laws, created and funded by taxpayer dollars. The same contractor responsible for providing free public access also offers a paid version of the identical material. This is an unacceptable conflict of interest allowing the contractor to increase profits by reducing transparency.

Donnelly explained that while current law technically requires free public access to regulation, OAL fails to do so adequately: “There is a ‘free version’ of the regulations online, but it is made intentionally difficult to navigate and comes with use disclaimers nearly as long as the actual regulations. This forces frustrated individuals and businesses to purchase the ‘paid version’ to properly acquire necessary information. When this occurs, OAL receives a kickback. There is no motivation to make the public site user friendly, especially when there is a profit involved.”

“It’s almost laughable, really. Our state government creates endless, unnecessary regulations for businesses and individuals, then agencies and contractors are able to make money off of making those regulations available to the public?” Donnelly questioned. “It’s high time we put an end to this bureaucratic nonsense and unethical profiteering off our public policy and written regulations.”

OAL issues exclusive privilege to Thomson Reuters in exchange for a $400,000 annual license fee and a 7% kickback for all purchases of the paid version. As more businesses are covered by new regulations, more businesses need to purchase access to those regulations due to ease of use from Thomson Reuters, and OAL derives a larger profit.

“The lack of standard and easy access to our state’s policies, especially in the twenty-first century, is an embarrassment to the rule of law, our system of checks and balances, free inquiry, and the American political process.”

AB 1612 would re-vamp public access versions of the regulations, making them comparable to the California Codes which are administered by Legislative Counsel.

“Why shouldn’t all of our laws have the same level of transparency? This is a key first step toward increasing transparency and accountability in our state government,” Donnelly said. “If lawmakers are ever going to be able to have the trust or confidence of those who elect us, we need to strive for common sense reforms like this one.”

Donnelly concluded by saying, “We need to cut back excessive regulation, red tape, burdensome laws, and government control. Perhaps if California voters had better, easier access to finding out about the regulations forced upon them, we would see an even greater public demand for all of the above.”

You can stay current with what is happening at the Capitol by visiting Assemblyman Donnelly’s website arc.asm.ca.gov.

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