MOORLACH UPDATE — XBRL Killed By Governor — October 21, 2019


SB 598 was vetoed by the Governor, mind you, who purportedly wrote the book, Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government and created the Office of Digital Innovation. The Bond Buyer provides the sad obituary below.

I believe that there is a chance for the Governor to see the light and revisit the issue, but for now, I mourn that he missed the easiest opportunity to advance innovation in his first year at the helm. I guess we’ll wait for other states to show us the way. Then he may just propose implementing XBRL in the future and claim the idea as his own.

For a sampling of previous UPDATEs on this bill, see the following:


The October 8th edition of the LA Times had the following headline above the fold of its Business section:  “Justices let blind sue over access to websites–Supreme Court won’t block a case brought by a man who found Domino’s Pizza online site unusable.”

If you would like to learn how to make your website ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant, we have a short seminar for you.

It will be held next Wednesday, October 30, 2019, from 10 a.m. noon at the Tustin Community Center at the Market Place, 2961 El Camino Real, Tustin.

The seminar is co-hosted by my office and the Civil Justice Association of California.  The details are on my website, see


Dr. Drew Pinsky of AM 790 is promoting our upcoming forum on mental health, see:

The Forum is this Saturday, October 26th, at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.   You’ll learn about the problems with the Lanterman–Petris–Short Act of 1967 and solutions for our community’s mental health problems.

Register by clicking on Reserve My Seat.

XBRL study bill dies at hands of California governor

By Keeley Webster

California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would have set up a commission to study whether to require state and local governments and agencies to provide financial documents to the state controller’s office in a more readily searchable format than the PDF.

Newsom’s veto of Senate Bill 598 posted Oct. 12 along with a flurry of other veto-pen victims just a day before his final signing deadline for the session.

California state Sen. John Moorlach, R-Cosa Mesa, in a hallway at the State Capitol in Sacramento.

“The veto just really caught us off guard,” said state Sen. John Moorlach, sponsor of the bill that cleared both houses unanimously.

The Open Financial Statements Act would have established a commission to study requiring governments to use eXtensible Business Reporting Language, a standard machine-readable format for financial reports.

The bill was modified in committee to establish an Open Financial Statement Commission within the State Treasurer’s Office to study adoption of XBRL and report its findings to the Legislature. In its original form, the bill would have moved straight to implementation.

“Although improving public agencies’ financial reporting processes for transparency is vital, this bill imposes additional unbudgeted costs for the state and contains implementation provisions that are problematic,” Newsom wrote in his veto message.

The governor’s office didn’t respond to a request for insight as to the extent of the additional costs or which implementation provisions the governor found objectionable.

The bill sailed through the Assembly and Senate with no opposition.

State Treasurer Fiona Ma supported the bill, writing in a letter that XBRL has been adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission for corporations. It would help local governments, private analysts and the public “better track taxpayer dollars by switching to a system that is more accessible, efficient, and user-friendly,” Ma wrote.

Marc Joffe, a senior policy analyst with the Reason Foundation, who worked with bill sponsor Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, on the legislation, said “nothing is absolutely free,” but the cost to study implementing XBRL was de minimis. Even in the original version of the bill that included the cost to implement the bill, he said, the estimated cost was around $1 million.

It might have been a case of poor timing, Joffe said, because the Legislature approved the bill after the budget, so perhaps the governor didn’t want to approve anything that added additional costs after that juncture.

“What the bill does is just set up a commission and Treasurer Fiona Ma was willing to take it on and underwrite the cost of the committee in her budget,” Moorlach said. “There might be a cost if you implement it, but the standard isn’t expensive and the technology is being used by the SEC, so I’m trying to figure out where the cost is there.”

Moorlach said he was surprised that the tech-friendly governor, who penned “Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government,” would be opposed to studying the adoption of XBRL.

“He put $40 million in the budget to deal with digital innovations,” Moorlach said. “This would have run parallel to what he was trying to do. The veto just really caught us off guard.”

Moorlach compiles a report annually that culls information from the audited statements of the state’s 940 school districts to determine the extent of their long-term liabilities including pensions. “With XBRL, instead of spending months accumulating that data, we could do it in seconds,” he said.

Moorlach hasn’t met with staff about his plans for next year yet, so he couldn’t say one way or another whether he will reintroduce the bill in January.


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