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Most bills winding through the Legislature follow a months-long process with multiple votes by lawmakers and lots of opportunity for the public to give input. But not always. The political majority (currently Democrats) can waive the normal rules and jam bills through at the last minute with little public scrutiny. It’s not uncommon for lawmakers and lobbyists to write brand-new bills in the session’s final days and push them to a vote before the public has much chance to weigh in.
What would it do?
Prop. 54 tries to put a stop to last-minute law-making by requiring the Legislature to publish a bill in print and online for at least 72 hours prior to a vote on the bill. (The measure makes exceptions in cases of public emergency.) It also would require the Legislature to video record all its public sessions and make video archives available online.
What would it cost the government?
Roughly $1 million to $2 million initially for equipment, plus about $1 million annually for making the videos and storing them online.
Why is it on the ballot?
Charles Munger Jr., a prominent Republican donor from the Bay Area, paid to put this measure on the ballot.
What supporters say:
It would make government more transparent by giving the public time to review bills before they become laws.
What opponents say:
Advance notice could cause delicate political deals to unravel by giving interest groups ample time to lobby legislators before they vote.
California Common Cause
California Republican Party
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom
Charles Munger, Jr., major Republican donor
Antonio Villaraigosa, former Assembly speaker and mayor of Los Angeles
Democratic State Controller Betty Yee
California Labor Federation
California Democratic Party
Former state Sen. Art Torres
Show me the money:
- Surprised that the Legislature can write and pass bills in less than 72 hours? Here’s some background on how it goes down: Capital Public Radio explains the ritual known as “gut and amend.” A Pepperdine economist says the practice is “at odds with advancing citizens’ welfare.”
- A Democratic political consultant argues against Prop. 54, saying it would give Republicans and business interests “the power to blow up legislation they don’t like.”
- Munger, the Prop. 54 backer, has a long history of supporting Republican candidates and ballot measures that seek to weaken labor unions, the Los Angeles Times reported in this profile.
- Supporting Prop. 54: San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee, Mercury News, Press Enterprise, San Diego Union-Tribune, Bakersfield Californian