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House Shoots Down Increased Financial Disclosures

The Texas House on Monday night rejected a bill that would have increased the level of detail in personal financial statements filed by lawmakers and other state officials.

State Rep. Chris Turner, left, on the House floor during a budget debate on March 31, 2015.

In an 87-53 vote, the Texas House on Monday night rejected a bill that would have increased the level of detail in personal financial statements filed by lawmakers and other state officials.

House Bill 1059 by state Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, would require financial statements to be filed online to the Texas Ethics Commission and would change the way officeholders report investments, from the number of shares owned to the dollar value of the shares, among other changes. Turner said he worked with the Texas Ethics Commission to craft the bill, which he called an effort to increase transparency. 

But House Republicans jumped on the measure, blasting it for being overly complicated and burdensome.

“I disagree completely with ‘We’re not transparent.’ I think we’re wasting a whole lot of time and we’re going to waste a whole lot of money,” state Rep. Phil Stephenson, R-Wharton, said during the debate, referring to the cost of appraising the dollar value of stocks in privately held companies. “It’s going to cost a bunch of money for nothing.”

State Rep. Wayne Faircloth, R-Dickinson, called the bill “incredibly complex.”

The proposal would have also required disclosure of additional types of income that aren’t currently listed, including public benefits, pensions and retirement plans.

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