SACRAMENTO (AP) — The state Senate is backing legislation to limit private conversations between members of the California Coastal Commission and developers, advocacy groups or others with an interest in their decisions.

The bill approved Monday stems from the commission’s controversial decision earlier this year to fire executive director Charles Lester.

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Conservation groups believe Lester was ousted to install management who is friendlier to coastal development. The commissioners who voted to fire him say they did so because of his job performance.

The commission currently allows ex-parte communications but says they must be disclosed.

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SB1190 by Democratic Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson of Santa Barbara would ban private discussion on certain matters and prohibit commissioners from seeking to influence staff recommendations.

Critics say it would complicate commission decision-making.

The measure now goes to the Assembly.

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