Proposition 54 Gives Power To the People
Here is what Proposition 54 would do.
1. It would prohibit the California Legislature from enacting any law unless it has been in print, and published on the Internet for at least 72 hours, except in cases of public emergency.
2. Proposition 54 would also require the legislature to record all of its meetings, except closed door meetings and post them on the Internet. A closed door meeting, for example, could be meetings to discuss security at the State Capitol.
3. Proposition 54 would also authorize anyone (even you and me) to record all legislative meetings, except closed door meetings.
So what is so good about Proposition 54?
Here is why I like Item #1 above.
I should begin by saying that the California Legislative Analyst’s office says it is unclear whether or not the 72 hour rule applies to any vote on the floor of either house, or only to the vote that immediately precedes sending the bill to the Governor.
During the legislative process a bill is first approved by one house of the state legislature and then sent to the other house for its approval of the bill. If the second house approves the bill, as written by the first house, the bill goes to the Governor for signature or veto.
However, if the second house changes the bill before approving it, then it must go back to the first house for it’s approval of the changes. If the first house approves of the changes, then the bill goes to the Governor.
That question of which vote (or all of them) the 72 hour rule applies to will probably, ultimately, be decided by the courts.
I would be happier if it was clear that this rule applies to all floor votes on bills whether or not they are the final vote before a bill goes to the Governor.
But even so, it is a good provision. Under the current system, bills often undergo major changes very soon before they are to be voted on on the floor of the state Senate or Assembly. This means legislators and their staff have little or no time to examine the latest wording of the bill before voting on it. This greatly increases the chance they might vote for a bad bill or one with which they fundamentally disagree. The 72 hour rule will give them much more time to carefully consider bills they will be voting on.
The fact that the latest version of the bill would be posted on the Internet for 72 hours is good too. Suppose you were closely following a bill. Being able to see the latest version of the bill on the Internet, would make it possible for you to call or write your legislator, before the vote, if you disagreed with something in the bill.
I often get E-mails from advocacy groups asking me to call legislators in support or opposition to a bill. Often I get E-mails asking me to sign a petition in support of or opposition to a bill.
The fact that the bill wording would be available on the Internet would enable advocacy groups to spot problems and take action.
All of this increases the chances that legislators will vote the way the public wants them to.
Ites 2 and 3 above make sense too.
Often the questions or statements of legislators, during meetings suggest whether they support or oppose a bill. If we, or advocacy groups, listen to those recordings it helps us decide which legislators we need to lean on to get them to vote the right way.
Often, too, listening to those who testify at the meetings, helps us decide what to say as we try to persuade legislators to vote the right way
All in all, Proposition 54 gives power to the people. Please vote for it.
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