In an environment where any victory is precious, Sen. Kim Thatcher took special pride to announce that one of her prime bills, SB 515 unanimously passed the House on Friday, 5 June. It had earlier, on 29 April, unanimously passed the Senate. It now awaits Interim Governor Kate Brown's certain signature.
SB 515 requires information relating to state economic development programs be posted on the Oregon transparency website along with annual reports regarding certain tax expenditures. The bill will also provide a method for users to offer suggestions to improve the website.
"I am very proud of the passage of SB 515. My colleagues and I put in a lot of work to pass this essential improvement to the Oregon transparency website," said Senator Kim Thatcher. "It's exciting to see the positive development of the state's transparency website."
"In 2009, a bi-partisan group of legislators started the process of making state government more accessible and transparent through our work on developing the Oregon transparency website," said Senator Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay), a co-sponsor of the bill. "SB 515 extends that process by improving on those efforts so every Oregonian can review annual reports of any economic development information and qualified research tax credits programs."
"Oregon's Transparency Website is rated 3rd-best in the Nation and is funded only by existing funds," said Representative Gene Whisnant (R-Deschutes Co.). "SB 515 will make our website even better and hopefully number one in the US."
While government transparency is all well and good and may even be a step in the right direction for limiting government, it does not merit so much hoopla. One must admire Sen. Thatcher's intent to shine a bright light on government (mis)management by compelling government agencies to post reports to the web site for the public's benefit. Unfortunately, in order to generate momentum sufficient enough to rein back government profligacy, the public must visit the site often and, more importantly, be able to mine deeply into these reports to extract meaningful nuggets of information. As evidenced by the repeated successes of big-government progressives in expanding the intrusive regulatory role of government as they subvert Oregon's constitution along the way, Democrats see the web site as little more than a minor distraction.
Still, a victory is a victory and we must remember that we're in this for the long game.