Flawed Legislative Proposals Attempt to Weaken Transparency Measure and Clutter an Already Crowded November Ballot

June 6, 2016 – Following the submission of over one million signatures by California voters to place the California Legislature Transparency Act (CLTA) on the November ballot, California legislators have introduced weakened versions of the transparency measure, including a constitutional amendment which may end up competing with CLTA on an already crowded November ballot.

One bill was gutted in the Senate and another radically amended on June 1 in an attempt to enact a conflicting, watered-down version of the initiative’s reforms.  Initiative proponents, Charles Munger, Jr. and Sam Blakeslee are opposing the two bills, SCA 14 and AB 884, which would do little or nothing to enhance legislative transparency and would further confuse voters and clutter an already-crowded November ballot.

“After years of attempting to increase transparency at the Capitol through legislative fixes, over a million Californians signed petitions to place a measure on the November ballot that will finally bring real transparency and open government to our legislature,” said former State Senator Sam Blakeslee.  “With an effective transparency measure assured for qualification for the November ballot, this 11th hour legislative package would only serve to confuse voters by placing a second weaker initiative on an already crowded ballot.”

After careful analysis, proponents of the California Legislature Transparency Act have found that SCA 14 and AB 884 significantly and importantly differ from the voter-supported measure by creating new loopholes to weaken, rather than reinforce, the reforms necessary to assure transparency.

Whereas CLTA calls for a 72-hour in print rule for bills before final votes in either house, SCA 14 only calls for the 72-rule in the second house. This defect would allow last-minute, closed-door amendments and ask lawmakers to vote on legislation they haven’t had time to read or analyze.

SCA 14 would also create additional costs to taxpayers by moving the costs of implementing reforms to the General Fund, rather than from the Legislature’s annual budget.  Alternatively, the voter-supported measure would ensure that any costs caused by its reforms would be absorbed by the Legislature’s operating budget. Those costs would be minor, comprising less than half of one-percent of the Legislature’s annual budget. Yet, SCA 14 would allow any amount to be appropriated for use by the Legislature, from outside the Legislature’s budget.

SCA 14’s companion bill AB 884, regarding recording of public hearings, puts at risk the public’s ability to view legislative proceedings in a timely manner, and as a statute, could be overturned by future legislative action.

Click here for a side-by-side comparison, which further explains the numerous flaws of SCA 14 and AB 884 versus the voter-supported California Legislature Transparency Act.

The California Legislature Transparency Act has been endorsed by a broad and diverse coalition of good-government and business groups including the League of Women Voters of California, the California Chamber of Commerce, the California NAACP, California Forward, the California Business Roundtable, California Common Cause, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, and many others.

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