AUSTIN (Jan. 30, 2015) — Texas State Senator Van Taylor announced the unveiling of his government transparency package. Adding to previously filed SB 115, the "Transparency for Government Benefits Act," which would make retirement information about legislators available by open records, Taylor recently filed SB 335, SB 336, SB 337 all relating to the accessibility of records to local elected officials.
Taylor is the state senator for District 8, having won the seat in the November 2014 election. The seat became open when the previous senator for District 8, McKinney’s Ken Paxton, was elected as the Texas attorney general.
During the interim Taylor met with several local officials who expressed concern with bureaucracies preventing access to records the officials needed to effectively perform their duties and represent the people’s interest. Addressing county government, municipal government, and special districts respectively, SB 335, SB 336, and SB 337 would provide an elected or appointed officer the right to access all information relating to the governmental body they serve.
"A government of the people cannot work unless elected officials have unfettered access to information within their jurisdiction," said Taylor. "Elected officials should not be stonewalled or asked to jump through bureaucratic hoops to access information critical to their oversight and decision-making responsibilities. This transparency package aims to protect the taxpayers and empower elected officials to do the job voters expect."
Collin County Commissioner for Precinct 1, Susan Fletcher, said of Taylor's legislation, "I applaud Senator Van Taylor for introducing legislation which increases transparency at the local level, promoting greater accountability and oversight in county government. We are all in the 'customer service' industry and our citizens are our customers. This legislation will go a long way in facilitating access to critical information so that we may better serve our citizens."
This law specifies that confidential information disclosed to an officer shall remain confidential, and that the governmental body may require that the requesting officer sign a confidentiality agreement including certain terms and conditions.
Since passing "Truth in Taxation" in the Texas House, which requires all House bills to clearly state in the first line of the bill if there is any attempt to raise taxes or fees, Taylor has been recognized as a leader in the Texas Legislature for government transparency matters.
A seventh generation Texan, local small businessman, and decorated Marine Officer, Van Taylor serves the majority of Collin County and a portion of Dallas County in the Texas Senate. Van and his wife, Anne, married after his return from Iraq and are the proud parents of three young girls. Van and his family reside in Plano near the land his great-grandfather farmed during the Great Depression.