Antonio Villaraigosa: Prop. 54 for a Stronger Democracy

This is an English translation of the original article that appeared in La Opinion.

Our democracy is stronger when more people participate.  Yet, California’s State Legislature routinely operates in secrecy, locking the average voter out of the lawmaking process and giving select special interest groups exclusive access to our elected leaders.  Behind the scenes last-minute lawmaking is common practice in Sacramento and results in many poorly considered laws that hurt our communities, businesses, and families.  Proposition 54, on this November’s ballot offers a solution to this problem.

Prop 54 is the most straight forward, and easiest YES vote on the ballot.  It will require that all proposed laws are released for public viewing 72 hours before a final vote by either house of the Legislature.  If legislators and the public have more time to review and comment on a proposed law before it is passed, the result will be better public policies for our state.

The measure will also require that all public hearings of the state legislature be video recorded and posted online within 24 hours.  Although legislative meetings are supposed to be open to the public, few people are able to attend those meetings in person.  Many of these meetings go completely unrecorded, even though major policies might have been discussed.  But since the legislature is not currently required to record all of its public meetings, the public is often kept in the dark.

Prop 54 will shine a light on what goes on during these meetings, so that the public can fully participate, even from places far away from Sacramento, such as Los Angeles or San Diego. These upgrades will not raise taxes and the minimal costs will come out of the legislature’s existing budget.

Finally, Prop 54 will allow citizens the right to record and share videos of public legislative meetings without fear of criminal consequences.  The public has the right to record during all city and county government meetings, why shouldn’t our state legislature be held to the same standard?

Proposition 54 is supported by Democrats, Republicans and a large coalition of well-respected groups including the League of Women Voters of California, the Latin Business Association, the California State Conference of the NAACP, Hispanic 100, California Common Cause, La Raza Roundtable de California, and the National Federation of Independent Business of California, among many others.

California’s voters deserve more transparency and accountability from our state Legislature and have every right to know what’s in a proposed law before it is up for a final vote.  Prop 54 is a common sense solution that will shine a light on our legislative process and allow every Californian the opportunity to observe and be heard on issues that matter to us all.  I urge you to join me in voting YES on Proposition 54 on November 8th.