If there’s one dominant reason for the distrust many Californians feel for governments at all levels, it’s the sense that special interests regularly pour millions of dollars into federal, state and local election campaigns while contriving to hide their identities.
That reality makes SB52, the so-called Disclose Act sponsored by Democratic state Sens. Mark Leno of San Francisco and Jerry Hill of San Mateo County, the single most important measure state lawmakers will consider this year.
Yes, they’ll face other big and contentious issues. Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget bills will get plenty of attention from the public and the Legislature before this month is out. So will plans for two massive tunnels to carry Sacramento River water south. No one will ignore the debate about how to divvy up new tax money from last year’s Proposition 30 among public school districts.
Each of these deserves all the attention it can get. But none will deal with the most basic issue standing between citizens and the politicians they elect, the same issue that makes voters distrust many ballot proposition campaigns...