California Prop. 54:  Legislative Procedures
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California Prop. 54: Legislative Procedures


Hi, my name is Wesley Edwards. I’m a
junior at Claremont McKenna College and today I’ll be discussing Proposition 54,
the initiative that seeks to increase transparency in the California
Legislature. Prop. 54 addresses two issues: last-minute amendments to bills and the
recording and posting of legislative proceedings. Under current procedures,
before the final vote on a bill, the legislature can remove a bill’s contents,
replace them with new provisions unrelated to the original topic of the
bill, and quickly vote on the bill without hearings, debate or testimony in
open session. This is sometimes called “gut and amend.” With respect to video
recordings, the California Channel broadcasts many legislative proceedings,
but the legislature is not required to record and broadcast its proceedings and does not allow the public to record its proceedings. First, Prop. 54 would
prohibit the Legislature from voting on a bill, with certain exceptions for
emergencies, unless the final bill has been in print
and online for at least 72 hours. It would require the Legislature to
maintain and publish recordings of its proceedings directly online and it
would allow anyone to record open legislative proceedings and to use
recordings in political advertisements. The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates
that the recording provision of Prop. 54 will cost the state approximately 1 to
2 million dollars in initial costs and $1 million annually. Prop. 54’s
main supporter and funder is Charles Munger Jr., a government reform
activist. The measure is also supported by pro-transparency groups, including
California Common Cause and the League of Women Voters of California, as well as
other organizations, including the California Republican Party. Supporters
argue that Prop. 54 would restrict the Legislature’s deceptive “gut and amend” procedure, reduce special interest influence, and promote accountability by
increasing public access to the legislative process. The leading opponents
of Prop. 54 include the California Democratic Party and labor groups. They
argue that Prop. 54 would hamstring legislators as they attempt to make
compromises to pass contentious legislation, actually increase
special interest influence, and lead to an increase in negative political attack
ads. In conclusion, voting Yes on Proposition 54 would be a vote in favor
of requiring bills to be published both in print and online for at least 72
hours prior to final vote, of requiring the legislature to create, maintain and
publish audio visual recordings of its proceedings, and allowing anyone to
record open legislative proceedings. A No vote would be a vote against
implementing these new changes. For more information, visit roseinstitute.org and
these other sites.

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