Rep Kim Thatcher spearheads new state transparency law

Rep Kim Thatcher

Rep. Kim Thatcher

(Salem) Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber held a signing ceremony for House Bill 2370 yesterday. This new law, spearheaded by State Representative Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer, Newberg, St. Paul) is the latest in a series in recent years to enhance the Oregon Transparency Website.

The website was created by the legislature in 2009 to assist Oregonians in understanding how state government spends their tax dollars. It also contains information about state agency revenues, expenditures, contracting, human resources and other data.

“This new law makes improvements on an already good thing for taxpayers,” said Thatcher. “From the start we have added features one step at a time to avoid costly technology upgrades and we appreciate the staff at the Department of Administrative Services for their help in the process.”

House Bill 2370 was a bi-partisan effort which passed unanimously during the 2013 legislative session. The measure calls for posting on the website additional details about several high profile economic development programs. The legislation also requires links to minutes of meetings, administrative rules, and more information about contracts issued by various state agencies, boards and commissions. In addition, local governments will have a place to link to their own budget transparency websites.

“Among other things, this bill will add additional information to the Oregon transparency website about a set of economic development tax subsidies, including the Oregon New Markets Tax Credit and Enterprise Zones,” said Celeste Meiffren, Oregon State Public Interest Research Group’s (OSPIRG)  Consumer and Taxpayer Advocate. “This is essential to ensuring that the public can do meaningful evaluation of these subsidies’ cost and effectiveness.”

Meiffren explained, “transparency in government spending checks corruption, bolsters public confidence in government and promotes greater effectiveness and fiscal responsibility. We commend the Oregon legislature for passing this important, bipartisan bill.”

Co-Chief Sponsors on the measure include State Representatives Phil Barnhart (D-Central Lane and Linn counties), John Lively (D-Springfield), Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer, Newberg and St. Paul), and State Senators Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay), and Doug Whitsett  (R-Klamath Falls).