in Houston, Texas
Dunnam pushes for online posting of lawmakers' disclosure forms
Monday, Apr 13, 2009, 11:04AM CST
By Jennifer Peebles
Jim Dunnam gets it. Now, let's see how many of his fellow state legislators do.

The Democratic state rep from Waco is the sponsor of a bill that would require the state ethics commission to post online the personal financial statements filed by all of Texas' lawmakers and local officials.

This is way, way overdue. Texans have a right to know the sources of income and business relationships held by their elected officials. The law currently on the books -- which requires that identifying information be recorded by the Ethics Commission by people who ask to see the forms -- is outdated at best and, at worst, serves to intimidate most average citizens and keep them from asking to see the forms.

Dunnam told The Chronicle's Matt Stiles in a story published today:



“We haven’t had the level of comprehensive ethics reform that we need ... There’s just a general resistance to it.”





The issue of the posting of the forms has gotten the goat of Texas Watchdog ever since last fall, when we requested all the forms from all 181 state legislators (and a bunch of other state leaders) and posted them all online ourselves.

Texas Watchdog is nonpartisan, but we openly advocate for one issue: freedom of information and your right to know. That's what Dunnam's House Bill 2496 comes down to.

It's currently in the House State Affairs Committee. Let's see if we can rally its members to action to pass this bill into law.

Maybe then, the legislature can come back in two more years and go one step further: Requiring lawmakers to file their disclosure statements electronically, so that the data on them can be easily dumped into a database that the public can search.

What else could Texas do to make government more transparent? Add your thoughts in our comments below or e-mail jennifer@texaswatchdog.org.
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