For years, lawmakers in Sacramento have tacked all sorts of amendments onto bills in the hours or minutes before votes. That’s resulted in all sorts of odd things sneaking through on the tails of unrelated but important bills.
Proposition 54 would put an end to that practice by prohibiting the Legislature from passing any bill unless it had been published on the Internet for at least 72 hours beforehand.
In addition, Prop. 54 would further shed more light on Sacramento activities by requiring both houses to video proceedings and post the recordings on the Internet.
Posting bills and video recordings of meetings on the Internet make them accessible to all. Voters would be able to track what’s happening with legislation of interest, and anyone can see if an unrelated issue has been tacked onto a bill in an effort to sneak it through the voting process. Voters would also be able to watch their representatives in action during sessions and see and hear debate on bills and issues.
More light on the state’s legislative process can only be a good thing. Twenty years ago, most news outlet in the state had a reporter or two in Sacramento watching what was going on. With all the changes and challenges news media has faced, those Sacramento reporters have largely disappeared.
That means there are few people to keep an eye on what’s happening in Sacramento. As the scandal in the city of Bell , as well as the dozens of legislators across the country caught lining their own pockets have shown has shown, unwatched public representatives can be tempted to look out for their own interests over their constituents’ interests.
Making bills and meetings available on the Internet can only help hold representatives accountable to voters rather than themselves or special interests.
Opponents claim Prop. 54 would cause unnecessary delays and be burdensome to getting legislation passed.
We think a little delay is well worth it if it means we can all keep a closer eye on Sacramento.