Turner’s Ethics Measures Aimed at Increasing Transparency By Elected Officials Moving Through Legislative Process
Bills reforming candidate/PAC reporting, expanding personal financial statements and improving access to state agencies heard this week in House committees; Measures join “double-dipping” ban to round out Turner’s transparency and ethics legislative package
AUSTIN − This week, state Representative Chris Turner presented three measures before House committees, all of which would increase ethics and transparency in state government. These bills join HB 408 to round out Turner’s ethics and transparency legislative package; that bill would ban so-called “double dipping” by state elected officials and passed unanimously from the House Committee on Pensions.
HB 1059 would expand the information required on Personal Financial Statements (PFS), filed by candidates and elected officials. Specifically, the measure would require filers to give a more accurate picture of their finances, including whether or not they receive income from a pension plan. The bill would also require the statements to be posted online and available to the general public. HB 1059 was heard today in the House Committee on General Investigating and Ethics.
There’s been a lot of talk about tax cuts around the Capitol. Which taxes should be cut will be hotly debated, but at the end of the day, it’s pretty likely that there will be some major cuts considered and probably passed.
On the Senate side, Lt. Governor Patrick unveiled a proposal that would cut taxes by about $4.5 billion through changes to residential property taxes and by limiting the number of businesses required to pay the franchise tax. Regarding the latter, by early calculations, it would mean that only 55,000 of Texas’ one million businesses would have to pay. As a quick reminder, this tax is used to generate some much needed revenue to help pay for public education.
Of course, with more people comes a greater need for added infrastructure, at both state and local levels. In cities like Arlington and Grand Prairie, this growth will especially impact our communities, because neither city has a comprehensive public transit system.
As I have expressed many times in the past, the issue of mass transit is of critical importance to our district. I have filed two pieces of legislation to try and find solutions to this issue and to arm our local officials with the tools they need.
In some parts of House District 101, there’s a payday or auto-title lender on every street corner. In fact, over a ten-year period, the number of these types of businesses has doubled in and around our area. Although the number has grown considerably, the level of oversight and regulation by the state remains limited and inadequate.
As a result, many communities throughout Texas have passed local ordinances to fight back against predatory lenders and to protect their citizens from high interest rates and fees or from losing their vehicle, which is often their only means of transportation. As a result, cities like Dallas, which has been a leader on cracking down on predatory lenders, have seen a decrease in the number of these businesses in their communities.