Local Government Transparency Bill Gets Resounding 149-2 Vote in the House
If local governments can take your money, they should tell you how they’re spending it. And if they can’t or won’t? Well, that’s a problem, and it looks like the legislature might agree—and in a big way.
In a near-unanimous vote, the Missouri House of Representatives passed legislation that would establish the Missouri Local Government Expenditure Database. The move rebuffed attempts by local officials to halt the bill’s progress and sends the proposal to the Senate. As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch describes it:
The legislation sponsored by House Speaker Pro Tem John Wiemann, R-O’Fallon, is designed to boost transparency in local government. It would allow municipalities to post the information voluntarily, but also would give residents the ability to petition for the creation of a local database if local leaders are reluctant to participate.
The proposal advanced to the Senate on a 149-2 vote. The measure mirrors a similar bill that won House approval last year, but was not taken up in the Senate during the pandemic-shortened 2020 session.
The proposal would establish the Missouri Local Government Expenditure Database, to be maintained by the Missouri Office of Administration. It would go into effect in 2023 and would include information about a municipality’s or county’s expenditures and the vendors to whom payments were made.
As major proponents of transparency initiatives like this, I am obviously elated at the progress the bill has made relatively early in the session, and while I wish it went further by making reporting mandatory for all local governments, it’s a step in the right direction. I’ll be watching this bill closely and will keep you posted on its progress.