As a big deadline looms in the Legislature, there’s a new debate over Proposition 54’s transparency rule

Los Angeles Times

By John Myers, June 1, 2017


Almost seven months after California voters imposed new transparency rules for the Legislature, a long simmering debate over the meaning of those rules could put the ultimate fate of dozens of bills in jeopardy.

Proposition 54, overwhelmingly approved by voters last November, requires that all legislation be available to the public for 72 hours before final action is taken. The authors of the ballot measure say that means final action in both the Assembly and Senate.

But when lawmakers convened after the election, the two houses approved different rules to implement the 72-hour waiting period. In the Assembly, officials argued that the rule only applies to the last vote before a bill heads to the governor — and not the last vote in its “house of origin,” which must take place by the end of this week.

A review of bills scheduled for an Assembly vote on Thursday found at least 32 pieces of legislation that had been amended less than 72 hours earlier — but were nonetheless scheduled for a vote.

When the day’s proceedings began, Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) sought to block action on those bills.

“It is a violation to the will of the people,” he said during a procedural debate on the floor. Allen’s effort, which led to a few tense exchanges with Democrats, was blocked.

This is the second time that a debate has emerged over the meaning of Proposition 54. In April, backers of the ballot measure warned of any last-minute changes to the $52-billion transportation deal that was being crafted by lawmakers.

Were a court to reject the Assembly’s interpretation of the new rule, bills passed and signed into law could be subject to legal review and — if a court agreed — blocked from taking effect.