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Editorial: Yes on Prop 54 to lift the veil of secrecy

 

Among the myriad propositions on the Nov. 8 ballot is one we feel we should weigh in on.

Proposition 54, the California "Legislature Transparency Act" Amendment, may not sound nearly as interesting as others. However, this has the potential to transform the way our state legislature operates and gives the press and the public access to information they should have had all along.

The 17 state measures include a wide array of topics including gun control, marijuana legalization, condoms and the death penalty. Proposition 54, the California "Legislature Transparency Act" Amendment, may not sound nearly as interesting. However, this has the potential to transform the way our state legislature operates and gives the press and the public access to information they should have had all along.

Ultimately it would remove the veil of secrecy and "We The People" will actually know what is written in the bills the elected representatives are voting on -- and so will the elected representatives.

The amendment would require bills before the legislature, except in cases of public emergency, to be published on the internet in their final form at least 72 hours before a vote. It also requires the legislature to post video of its proceedings online.

The manner in which some bills are passed is shameful.

Last-minute changes and rushed middle-of-the-night votes can and have led to votes on bills that have radically changed from inception, with little knowledge of what is actually being voted on -- certainly by the public and the press, but even by the legislators.

Prop 54 would give elected representatives a chance to read and understand what they are voting on, and give the public and the press an opportunity to do the same.

The ability to know what is included in a bill shouldn't even be questioned in a democracy, and it is frustrating this hasn't been mandated before now. The California League of Women Voters, California NAACP, California Chamber of Commerce, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the First Amendment Coalition are among the groups backing the proposition.

It seems the only group opposing the measure is the California Democratic Party, stating it, "provides special interests like tobacco, oil, and drug companies with new powers to block timely legislative action on key issues facing our state." We are hard-pressed to imagine a public emergency involving special interest groups like the ones mentioned, or a situation when three days becomes a "block" instead of a necessary "breath."

We support Proposition 54 because it will allow people and the press to participate in the democratic process if they so choose. More importantly, it will increase transparency in the legislative process and allow voters -- the people who are ultimately affected by legislation -- to hold their representatives accountable.

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Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Steven Maviglio
a resident of another community
on Sep 23, 2016 at 11:15 am

Proposition 54 is backed by every special interest in Sacramento. Why? Because it's a special interest power grab that will allow tobacco companies, oil companies and other special interests to blow up legislative crafted by our elected officials. Major legislation -- such as our state's climate change law, drought relief package, the Fair Housing Act, and more -- all are debated for months not "last minute" nor "in the middle of the night."

This law has been in effect in New York -- with zero increase in citizen participation.


Like this comment
Posted by Ptown Dad
a resident of Amador Estates
on Sep 24, 2016 at 8:37 am

Ptown Dad is a registered user.

This is a breakthrough for all of us. Hopefully it will radically change the back room negotiating by good ol' boy politicians. Government has been operating this way for years - now it's time for the voters to get the legislation we need without the secret deals made at the 11th hour.

This is a big step in the right direction for everyone in California, regardless of political affiliation.

By the way, when politicians use the term "special interests" that's the label they put on any groups that oppose them. The term has a strong negative connotation so they like to throw it around freely to build voter support. I doubt any of those groups mentioned who might oppose the bill actually oppose it. The only special interest group who opposes it is the politicians themselves.


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