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Assembly panel votes to ease conflict-of-information checks on lawmakers

A state Assembly committee voted yesterday to stop making people give their names and addresses before they can check for conflicts of interest by public officials.

On a 6-3 vote, the judiciary panel endorsed a bill to post the economic holdings of 2,100 officials on the Internet, things like stocks and businesses owned by lawmakers.

The idea is to discourage officials from using their offices for personal or business gain.

The bill's author, Madison Democrat Spencer Black, says making people give their names is an unnecessary barrier to getting public information.

And watchdogs say it intimidates people into not doing it.

But information about the property owned by judges and district attorneys would be kept secret under an amendment endorsed Wednesday.

Assembly Democrat and former judge Fred Kessler said it was necessary because judges and DA's are always threatened by those who appear in court before them.

But Black says the information should still be available in some manner including to reporters checking out various stories.

And he'll propose a change when the bill reaches the Assembly floor.