© 1996 Associated Press
April 17, 1996

Senate Panel Rejects Attempt To Computerize Contribution Records

SACRAMENTO (AP) -- An attempt to help the public and press keep track of campaign contributions by computerizing donation reports was rejected Wednesday by a state Senate committee.

The Elections and Reapportionment Committee voted 2-1 for a computerization bill by Sen. Tom Hayden, D-Santa Monica. But the measure needed at least three votes to get out of the 5-member committee.

Sens. Richard Polanco, D-Los Angeles, and Henry Mello, D-Watsonville, voted for the bill. Sen. Dan Boatwright, D-Concord, opposed it. Sen. Robert Beverly, R-Long Beach, didn't vote and Sen. Bill Craven, R-Oceanside, was absent.

A spokesman for Hayden, Duane Peterson, said the bill was dead but that a nearly identical measure by Assemblywoman Jackie Speier, D-Burlingame, was still alive in the Assembly.

"It's an idea whose time will come," Peterson said. "It's just painful that it wasn't today."

Candidates, ballot measure committees and major contributors are required to file periodic donation reports with the secretary of state's office and local election officials. But keeping track of a candidate's contributions can require going through hundreds of pages of donor names.

"I think electronic disclosure does provide for public disclosure," said Ruth Holton, executive director of California Common Cause, a citizens' group that supports the computerization bills. "We've had public disclosure supposedly on the books for 20 years, but the public can't get to the information."

"I think some (Senate) members still view computers and the Internet as newfangled technology."

She said she hopes to convince the committee to approve the Speier bill if it passes the Assembly.

Both bills would allocate $550,000 to the secretary of state's office to set up a computerized reporting system. They would also require candidates and major donors to file their reports via computer or a computer disk.

Interested persons would be able to look at the reports through the Internet.

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