A screenshot of the CAL-ACCESS website, December 27, 2011.
California Senator Leland Yee wants to double the registration fee lobbyists pay in California—from 7 cents a day to 14 cents a day, or $50 a year. California has one of the lowest fees in the country, compared to states like Massachusetts, which charges its lobbyists up to $1,000 per year.
Senator Yee hopes the increased revenue, a potential $50,000, will go towards fixing Cal-Access – the website that reveals the money behind politics, including campaign contributions, and has been “mostly dysfunctional” since November 30. State officials say the site, which was designed in 1999, is suffering from “physical memory failure.” Citizen watchdogs who rely on it to do their job are outraged by the outage. So far there’s no opposition to the fee increase, which most lobbyists think is reasonable, although they blocked a 2010 effort to do so. If passed, it would mark only the second time lobbyists’ fees have been raised in the state since 1974.
But is $50,000 enough to cover the update to Cal-Access? And why does California have especially low fees for lobbyists?
Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo)
Pamela Heisey, spokesperson with Maplight.org, a research organization that tracks political spending; they use Cal-Access