George Skelton: Prop. 54 is “a motherhood-and-apple-pie proposal”

September 15, 2016 – In Thursday’s Los Angeles Times, George Skelton explains in his column how Prop. 54 will bring transparency, and create a more effective Legislature.

Below are excerpts from the article, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant — and in California’s Legislature, there’s a lot to disinfect”:

“California’s November ballot will be crammed with contentious and complex state ballot measures, enough to give voters a migraine. But one of them shouldn’t require two minutes’ thought.

It’s Proposition 54, a motherhood-and-apple-pie proposal if there ever was one.

Proposition 54 is all about trying to make the state Legislature more transparent and thoughtful — less secretive and, too often, slimy.

‘What our elected representatives do on the public dais should be made public,’ says Kathay Feng, who heads the watchdog organization California Common Cause, a strong Proposition 54 supporter.

…Proposition 54 is one of those measures no Legislature would ever pass — regardless of which party was in control — because it would weaken the power of leaders. They couldn’t jam a proposal through the Legislature under the radar at the last second.

…What commonly happens is an ugly 11th-hour “gut-and-amend.”

Some bill that has survived open committee hearings and a floor vote — just like the textbooks call for — is eviscerated and amended with entirely new content. Public scrutiny is avoided.

Neither the public nor most legislators have time to begin digesting the revamped bill before the voting deadline.

It’s bad for democracy and frequently leads to flawed legislation.

…’If a bill comes together and can’t stand three days of sunshine with a couple of public hearings, it might not be a good law.’

…As for Proposition 54, the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis put it best: Sunlight is the best disinfectant. And in California’s Capitol — as in most states’ — there’s a lot to disinfect.”

Read the entire article on the Los Angeles Times website:

To learn more about Prop. 54 or to join the coalition, visit the website at

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