State Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, and Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, introduced Tuesday identical legislation in the Senate and Assembly aiming to increase legislative accountability and public access to legislation.
The bills would put a measure before voters that, if approved, would require all legislation to be in print and online for at least three days before final passage by the Senate or Assembly.
“In the last two-year session of the state Legislature, the Senate and Assembly considered nearly 5,000 legislative proposals,” said Wolk, author of Senate Constitutional Amendment 10. “Hundreds of those became new laws, from the obscure to the significant. While most of those proposals were publicly shared and well-vetted, some were not.
“Last-minute changes to bills can leave legislators unsure of what they are voting on, and prevent the public from weighing in on proposals. If approved by voters, this constitutional amendment would ensure public access to laws before they are passed from the Legislature, while maintaining sufficient flexibility for the Legislature to do its work.”
Olsen, the author of Assembly Constitutional Amendment 4, added: “Each year, the Legislature passes bills requiring greater transparency of various agencies and local governments. However, in many instances it fails to hold itself accountable to those same standards of open, transparent, citizen-driven government.”
SCA 10/ACA 4 would amend California’s Constitution to require all legislation, including the state budget, to be in print and publicly available for at least 72 hours before final passage by either house. The only bills that would be exempt from this requirement would be those required to respond to a state of emergency declared by the governor.
The proposed amendment, which has bipartisan support, also would allow legislative committees to begin reviewing bills after 15 days, rather than 30 days, as currently required, if the language to be considered is both in print and posted online.
“Public confidence in government remains low, and restoring the public’s faith will take a lot of work,” said Wolk, a longtime advocate for more accountability in government. “This constitutional amendment is a practical, meaningful proposal that will strengthen legislative accountability with increased transparency.”
SCA 10 is jointly authored by Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, and Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, and coauthored by Olsen and Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord. ACA 4 is being coauthored by Huff and Wolk.