- Associated Press - Monday, April 4, 2016

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska senators on Monday approved a plan to feature more agencies on the state’s spending transparency website.

Lawmakers voted 33-0 to advance a bill that would require quasi-public agencies to make their financial records public. The agencies’ documents would join the records of all state agencies and the University of Nebraska on the state spending website.

Quasi-public agencies are generally independent and controlled by government-appointed boards to perform a public duty. Some receive state general-fund money and many are granted the power to collect fees or issue bonds.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. John McCollister of Omaha, called it “completely natural” that these agencies, which use taxpayer money, should be open to public scrutiny along with other government entities.

“Why shouldn’t they be?” he said. “In order to give Nebraskans a complete picture of all entities that spend money, we have to expand the scope.”

The measure could affect as many as 24 agencies that are not currently a part of the state’s main accounting system, such as such as the Nebraska State Fair Board, the Environmental Trust Board and the State Anatomical Board.

McCollister said the legislation was created with State Treasurer Don Stenberg to improve accountability, public engagement and efficiency.

The website, www.statespending.nebraska.gov , was created through legislation passed in 2009.

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The bill is LB851.

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