During Sunshine Week, Ohio Legislature Considers Pro-Business Bills that Improve Transparency

Look outside, and you’ll see the snow is almost gone and the numbers on the thermostat are higher than they’ve been in months. See you late winter, and hello sunshine!

Although it’s just a coincidence, along with ushering in spring, this week we also welcome Sunshine Week. What is Sunshine Week, you ask? Each year, Sunshine Week serves as “a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information.” In short, it’s an annual project to promote government transparency.

And in another coincidence, this year during Sunshine Week the Ohio General Assembly happens to be considering two pro-business bills that increase transparency when it comes to the way the state goes about accounting for taxpayer dollars. In the spirit of Sunshine Week, we look at how these bills translate into more confidence in state expenditures for and businesses and citizens:

Picking up from last session, companion legislation, Senate Bill 38 and House Bill 10, provide greater transparency when the state hires outside attorneys. Each year, tens of millions of dollars are spent annually by the AG’s office on hiring outside attorneys. SB 38 and HB 10 specify that copies of all contracts between the state and private attorneys must be posted on the AG’s website. Making this information readily available would be a welcome change—sunshine is good! Furthermore, the bills require annual reports to the legislature listing all contracts, including the amounts of total legal fees, the state has entered into with private attorneys.

In a similar attempt to shine light upon how the state of Ohio manages money, House Bill 46 requires the Treasurer of State to maintain a public government expenditure database. Currently, Treasurer Josh Mandel keeps Ohioans abreast through the Online Checkbook. However, HB 46 looks to ensure that such transparency is maintained from treasurer to treasurer and that quality data that captures where taxpayer dollars are spent is available.

While the mission of the Ohio Chamber remains to be a champion for Ohio businesses so our state enjoys economic growth and prosperity above all else, Sunshine Week reminds us of the need to ensure that government expenditures and contracts are made in the interest of the public good, do not punish businesses, and reflect wise management procedures. Let the sun shine in!