FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 02/07/2013
Rep. Donna Howard Files Legislation To Strengthen Financial Disclosure Laws
Measure would enhance filing requirements; require comprehensive interim review
AUSTIN - State Representative Donna Howard today filed legislation to strengthen personal financial disclosure requirements for legislators, candidates, and other officials subject to the state’s disclosure laws.
House Bill 1074 would require all sources of earned and unearned income to be reported. Current law requires filers to report occupational income, but not unearned income such as pensions or retirement plans. In addition, the bill clarifies that filers are required to list the source and type of income for a spouse and dependent child.
"This bill addresses concerns about potential gaps in reporting requirements with the goal of strengthening public confidence in state government and its officers," Howard said.
Howard’s legislation also would ensure that reports are readily accessible to the public by requiring the Texas Ethics Commission to post the records online.
"Texans should not have to rely on the media or other sources to gather and post information that, by the law's intent, is designed to be available to the public," Howard added.
To address further issues of concern, HB 1074 also establishes a select interim committee to undertake a comprehensive review of personal financial disclosure laws. The committee would be comprised of four legislators; two representatives of open government advocacy organizations; two members of organizations representing professional media; two members of the public; and one member of the Texas Ethics Commission, who would serve as chairman.
"It has been two decades since the last comprehensive review of these disclosure requirements has been undertaken," Howard said. "The role of this interim committee will be to review state law to ensure that state officials continue to meet the highest ethical standards, that the goal of meaningful disclosure is achieved, and that our government continues to operate with transparency."