Senator McGuire’s bill adds transparency to special districts

The Special Districts Transparency Act passed Senate Governance and Finance committee today

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Sacramento – California has over 2,000 independent special districts that operate a slew of vital services for millions of Californians, such as water, wastewater, fire protection, parks, and transit. However, less than half of all special districts have websites. This presents a significant transparency gap for the millions who are served by these districts.

Senator McGuire’s SB 929 – the Special Districts Transparency Act – will require every independent special district to create and consistently maintain a website with specific and detailed information including meeting agendas, clear information on the district’s budget and expenditures, compensation reports, information on how to contact representatives of the district and more.

“There are millions of Californians who receive a vital service from a special district, yet they have no idea how their hard earned tax dollars are being spent because financial reports aren’t online, they don’t know what the district’s board is doing because the agenda isn’t posted online or how to contact their district on a call for service,” Senator Mike McGuire said. “It’s time to shine a light on the mission of these districts, and SB 929 is a simple solution to help residents become more informed about how their local government is working.”

In 2017, the Little Hoover Commission released a report on the state of special districts which cites a need for greater transparency and public involvement in special districts. Today, there is no requirement that special districts must create and maintain a website, which leaves many residents in the dark.

Under SB 929, districts would be provided one year to comply with this new law (January 1, 2020). The legislation has been endorsed by the California Special Districts Association.

SB 929 passed the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on a bipartisan 6-0 vote this morning.