Shedding light on the political process

January 25, 2017

By Rep. Charlie Geren

The Texas Legislature has an opportunity to create a more transparent and accountable government. Governor Abbott has rightfully made ethics reform a centerpiece of his administration, and I am honored to carry a number of bills that would help shed more light on our political process. These proposals governing conflicts of interest, campaign nance reform and relationships with lobbyists, for example, were championed by me and my colleagues on the campaign trail. Our election on these platforms show us that this is an important issue for Texans. Now is the time to make good on our campaign promises.

Increasing transparency in our political process is not only the right thing to do, but it is essential if we are going to be responsive to the voters. Time and again, poll numbers have shown that Texans want more accountability in Austin. Consider that 75 percent of voters support a measure that would require all organizations spending money in Texas electoral politics to disclose the source of their donations and report their expenditures. Texans want to know their representatives are beholden to the voters, not special interests. Lobbyists also need to be held more accountable and my reforms will strengthen their reporting requirements.

The bottom line is that the public’s trust in our elected officials needs to be strengthened and, in some cases, restored. As responsible conservatives, we must be disciplined – and consistent – in our calls for transparency and reform. These are not new concepts. We have discussed and debated them in past legislative sessions. However, many of these bills are stripped of any worth by the time they make it through both chambers. The Legislature has the opportunity to deliver the kind of open and transparent government they deserve.

Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth) represents parts of Tarrant County and District 99. He currently serves as Chairman of House Administration.

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