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AZ House focuses on accountability

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Arizona House Democrats said they are beginning the 51st legislative session with a clear focus on increasing government accountability.

"House Democrats are the advocates for accountability and transparency at the state Capitol," House Minority Leader Chad Campbell said. "This session, as we have done in the past, we will continue to make that a priority."

Bills to increase government accountability and transparency include:

HB 2256 - The bill includes reforms that make it a criminal offense to recklessly file false financial disclosure forms and closes all of the lobbyist gift ban loopholes. It is intended to address Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery's concerns following the Fiesta Bowl scandal. (Campbell)

HB 2410 - The legislation creates a non-partisan commission to monitor and investigate candidates and elected officials. The commission would have the authority to offer advisory opinions, audit candidate financial accounts and impose civil penalties against those violating the law. (Quezada)

HB 2497 - The bill requires elected officials to disclose any scholarships or benefits they receive for travel, lodging or fees for conferences. It also requires that the disclosure include the names of all donors contributing. Additionally, it requires lobbyists to disclose the same information.

Last week, on a city level, a report by a public interest group gave Phoenix a "D" for how well the city publicly provides data about city spending and revenues in an online transparency website.

The report, Transparency in City Spending: Rating the Availability of Online Government Data in America's Largest Cities, reviews and grades the nation's 30 largest cities on how effectively they allow the public to track budgets, contracting, subsidies, grants and requests for quality-of-life services. [Click here to read the full report (PDF)]

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