SACRAMENTO – Senate Bill 53 (SB 53), a bill that ensures transparency in government at all levels, unanimously passed the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization, Sen. Scott Wilk (D-Santa Clarita) announced Wednesday.
“Transparent government is good government. SB 53 ensures that the state is held to the same transparency standards it demands of local government,” said Wilk, who represents the 21st Senate District and introduced the bill.
“The current system has created wiggle room for smaller agencies and commissions to operate behind closed doors – which is contrary to the spirit of our transparency laws,” he said. “SB 53 will close that loophole.”
Current statute is ambiguous regarding the definition of “state body,” allowing certain smaller committees and commissions to use this to their advantage and meet behind closed doors. Senate Bill 53 defines “state body” as a standing committee of any membership size – clarifying that they would all have to comply with the state’s open meeting rules.
“The state holds local governments to a different standard than it holds itself, and that’s completely hypocritical,” Wilk said. “This clarification in the law will ensure there are no more excuses for keeping the public in the dark. I want to thank my colleagues on the committee for their support, and I look forward to continuing this work throughout the process.”
SB 53 now heads to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations, which will review its fiscal impact on the state.