California has long been known for it’s sunny disposition, from the skies to the people, but there is one place in our state that the sun doesn’t shine – in the California Legislature.
We have made strides to increase transparency on everything from communications to finances from candidates, local government, government agencies, and pretty much everywhere but the Capitol building.
The Republican currently leading the fight for transparency is former Republican Assembly Leader Kristin Olsen, who first introduced the Legislative Transparency Act in 2012. So why, on the eve of the end of the 2015/2016 session, are we still without increased transparency in the legislature? We can answer that in two words: Democrat majority.
Democrats have steadily lead each and every legislative transparency bill to slaughter, most at the hands of a committee chair. Killing the bills in committee keeps members from having to vote on the issue and reminding the people of California that Democrats would rather conduct their business in secret.
After several failed attempts, it became clear that this was an issue that needed the people’s voice. Proposition 54 was crafted using some of the language from Assemblywoman Olsen’s bills and expanded to include transparency components for the benefit of the public.
What kind of transparency is Proposition 54 asking for? Common sense reforms that will ensure the public the ability to see and review legislative proceedings and will guarantee that members have bills in print for 72 hours prior to a vote so they can actually have time to read the legislation. Right now Democrats can use their numbers to gut and amend bills at the last minute and force a quick vote that keeps members from reading what they are voting on and allows no time for public discussion.
When it became clear that Proposition 54 was going to make it on the ballot, Democrats scrambled to draft a counter transparency bill so full of fluff, loopholes, and exceptions that it was worthless. Editorial boards across California joined Republicans in pointing out their sad attempt to fool voters into thinking they might actually be interested in transparency. (OC Register, Los Angeles Daily News, and San Francisco Chronicle)
It’s no surprise their bill didn’t make it and the voters will get to make their decision in November. This could very well be the last year that Democrats get to play the gut and amend game at the end of session and we are thrilled.
It is finally time to end the sneaky legislation, lack of accountability, and back-door deals that lead to poor legislation. We applaud Kristin Olsen for her tenacious fight for transparency and urge you to vote yes on Proposition 54.