Democrat Legislative Leadership Sidesteps Transparency Requirements
By Luis Buhler
July 3, 2017
In November, voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 54 with 65% of the vote. Unfortunately, the California Legislature has tried to avoid the transparency California citizens have demanded.
So far this session, the State Assembly has passed over 90 bills without giving its members 72 hours to review and amend the language. Those bills and their bipartisan list of authors face legal uncertainty as to whether the bills could ever become law. The new language in the California Constitution states that a bill that does not meet the 72-hour-in-print requirement cannot become a statute.
Interestingly, the California State Senate chose to follow Proposition 54 requirements by giving its members 72 hours to read bills. It appears that the California Assembly may try to correct the legal flaw by holding a concurrence vote with 72 hours notice on bills that come back from the Senate without amendment. However, a concurrence vote only allows an up or down vote on a bill. Therefore the process would deny members of the assembly the right to amend bills in question.
Another attack on Prop 54 comes from proposed Senate rules which would restrict the constitutional right of any person to record its proceedings. These rules, proposed by Senate Democrat Leader Kevin de León, would give the right to record proceedings from the floor only to those members of the press approved by the Senate, not to all members of the press, guests and others on the floor – the same procedure that existed before passage of Prop 54. If adopted, these rules would also make it impossible for Senators themselves to record proceedings of the Senate.
The right of Senate members to record proceedings proved to be critical when Sen. Janet Nguyen was removed from the Senate floor while describing the immigrant experience of Vietnamese refugees. The official recordings of that session were released only after members’ own video recordings were posted on the internet and went viral.
These recent events demonstrate that the Democrat legislative leadership will not willingly comply with the transparency requirements that California citizens have demanded. It appears that only the threat of consequences at the ballot box or court action will achieve that goal. For more information on Prop 54 and the latest news on legislative transparency, you can visit www.holdpoliticiansaccountable.org.