A measure on its way to the November ballot in California that would require bills to be available to legislators and the public for 72 hours before a vote as well as making video of legislative hearings available to the public within 24 hours has met a lot of resistance from lawmakers.
Steven Greenhut writes:
No wonder the Legislature is scurrying for a softer alternative. Many lawmakers want SCA14 to go on the same ballot. If this constitutional amendment passes with more votes, the Blakeslee-Munger initiative would not go into effect. SCA14, passed in committee, deals with the 72-hour transparency issue but critics say it’s so laden with loopholes it renders the reform nearly meaningless—even after some last-minute amendments that bring it a bit closer to the initiative.
For instance, backers of the initiative argue that SCA14 requires a 72-hour notice only in the second legislative house. Instead of expanding transparency, they say, it would allow one house to game the system—and foist gutted and amended bills on the other house. SCA 14 supporters deny that, but the current language is convoluted. This much is clear: the initiative’s language is far stronger than the alternative, which is why initiative backers remain committed to taking their measure to the ballot.
Ironically, legislators also used the gut-and-amend process to pass in committee Assembly Bill 884, which deals with the public-recording portion of the Blakeslee-Munger initiative. Because this is a legislative measure and not a constitutional amendment, the legislature can change any of its provisions with a simple majority vote in the future. By contrast, changes in the initiative would have to go back to the people for a vote. That’s a key benefit for the initiative.
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