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23 January 2012

Tim Jones: Majority Minute: Transparency Measures Await Floor Debate

Sun drenched skies blossomed and shone through the retreating weekend tumultuous storm front as it rumbled southward as we begin the third full week of session in the House. HCS HJR 43 was overwhelmingly passed from the House last week and has marched to the Senate to await action. This good government/taxpayer friendly constitutional amendment represents the first successful piece of legislation passed pursuant to the Speaker’s Blueprint for Missouri.

A Glimpse at the Week Ahead

Two important bills on the House Calendar for Perfection will receive action this week:

HB 1135, sponsored by Rep. Jason Smith (R-150), will grant the Secretary of State the authority to make technical changes to administrative rules and will improve transparency in Missouri government by requiring the review of administrative rules. Over time, department rules become outdated or obsolete. By requiring these rules to be reviewed periodically, we can ensure that all agency rules are efficient and effective. This proposal also allows ordinary people the right to request an administrative rule change. The agency must respond to any such request and inform a committee of the General Assembly about the request and their response. Under current law, these administrative rules can stay on the books of a state agency indefinitely. HB 1135 also requires all administrative rules to sunset after 10 (ten) years. By including the sunset provision, all rules will have to pass through the public comment process periodically, providing citizens a say in how our executive departments operate.

HCS HB 1140 is also sponsored by Rep. Jason Smith (R-150). Currently, information about state spending is available on line at the Missouri Accountability Portal. HB 1140 requires counties and schools to submit their debts and holdings to the Office of Administration for posting on the portal. This gives taxpayers a one stop shop for tracking how their state and local tax dollars are being spent, expanding the information available to them. Under this proposed legislation, school districts and public charter schools must annually collect and submit detailed employee compensation data and the district’s annual operating budget and bonded indebtedness to the Office of Administration for inclusion. HB 1140 also requires each county to collect and annually transmit to the Office of Administration for inclusion on the portal detailed compensation information for all elected county officials, a copy of the detailed financial statement that counties are currently required to publish, and any cash reserves.

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