An overview of Proposition 54 and its impact on the California government

Proposition 54, which was promulgated by voters in the November 2016 general election, adopted constitutional and statutory changes regarding amendments to bills and recordings of legislative proceedings. According to the Attorney General’s summary of the poll, Prop. 54:

Prohibits the legislature from passing a bill unless it is posted on the Internet 72 hours before the vote. Requires the Legislative Assembly to record its proceedings and publish them on the Internet. Allows the use of recordings. Fiscal impact: One-time costs of $ 1 million to $ 2 million and ongoing costs of about $ 1 million per year to record legislative meetings and make videos of these meetings available on the Internet

Proposition 54, whose title is the “California Legislature Transparency Act”, included numerous conclusions and statements as part of the ballot measure. For example, these findings included that “it is essential for the maintenance of a democratic society that public affairs be conducted in an open and public manner, and highly desirable that citizens have the opportunity to fully consider every bill and express their views on the merits of the bill to their elected representatives before it is passed.

Proponents of Proposition 54 were particularly concerned with “and amended” bills which contain “last minute amendments to bills. [that] are frequently used to obtain political favors without comment or with little notice. In addition, complex bills are often passed before members of the Legislative Assembly have a chance to consider or debate them, resulting in reckless legislation.

As a result of these findings, Proposition 54 made several statements, including that ‘to promote disclosure, deliberation, debate and decorum in our legislative procedures, to keep our citizens fully informed and to ensure that legislative procedures are conducted fairly and openly, our Constitution should guarantee the right of everyone, including members of the press, to freely record legislative proceedings and to broadcast, publish or otherwise transmit such recordings. “

In addition, prop. 54 stated that “the legislature itself should also be required to make and publish audiovisual recordings of all public proceedings on the Internet and to keep archives of such recordings, which will be a valuable resource for the public, the press, and the university community for generations to come. California should also follow the lead of other states that require 72 hours’ notice between when a bill is printed and made available to the public and when it is voted on, by allowing an exception. only in the event of a real emergency, such as a natural disaster.

Subsequently, Proposition 54 adopted amendments to the California Constitution, followed by two amendments to the California Government Code. These changes are described below:

Article IV, section 7 has been amended to provide (additions are in italics):

a) Each chamber chooses its leaders and adopts rules for its deliberations. The majority of members constitute a quorum, but a smaller number may withdraw from one day to the next and force the presence of absent members.

(b) Each chamber shall keep and publish a journal of its proceedings. The roll-call vote of the members on a question is taken and entered in the journal at the request of 3 members present.

(c) (1) Except as provided in subsection (3), the deliberations of each chamber and its committees are open and public. The right to attend public and public proceedings includes the right of any person to audio or video record any part of the proceedings and to broadcast or otherwise transmit them; provided that the legislature may adopt reasonable rules in accordance with subsection (5) regulating the placement and use of equipment for recording or broadcasting proceedings for the sole purpose of minimizing disruption of proceedings. Any aggrieved party will have standing to challenge said rules in a declaratory and injunctive judgment action, and the onus will be on the legislature to demonstrate that the rule is reasonable.

(2) As of January 1 of the second calendar year following the adoption of this paragraph, the Legislature shall also cause audiovisual recordings of all proceedings referred to in paragraph (1) to be made in their entirety, shall make such recordings public via Internet within 24 hours of the suspension or adjournment of proceedings for the day, and will maintain an archive of such recordings, which will be publicly accessible via the Internet and downloadable for a period of at least 20 years, as specified by law.

(3) Notwithstanding subsections (1) and (2), closed sessions may be held only for the following purposes:

Additionally, Article IV, Section 8 has been amended to provide (additions are in italics):

(a) During ordinary sessions, no bill other than the finance bill may be heard or dealt with by the committee or one or the other of the chambers until the 31st day after the tabling of the bill. law, unless the chamber waives this requirement by a roll-call vote entered in the newspaper, three-quarters of the concurring members.

(b) (1) The legislature can only make law by statute and can only adopt law by bill. No bill can be adopted if it is not read by title within 3 days in each chamber except that the chamber may dispense with this requirement by a roll-call vote entered in the newspaper, two-thirds of the members being there concordant.

(2) No bill can be adopted or eventually become law unless the invoice with any amendments have been printed, distributed to members, and published on the Internet, in its final form, at least 72 hours before the vote, except that this notice period may be waived if the Governor has submitted to the Legislature a written declaration that the waiver of this notice notice period for this bill is necessary to deal with a state of emergency, as defined in paragraph (2) of subsection (c) of section 3 of Article XIII B, which has been declared by the governor, and the chamber examining the bill then waives the notice period for this by a separate roll-call vote entered in the newspaper, two-thirds of the members concurring, before the vote on the bill .

(3) No bill can be passed unless, by a recorded vote in the newspaper, a majority of the members of each chamber agree.

Article 9026.5 of the Government Code has been amended to provide (additions are in italics):

Television or other audiovisual recordings of public debates.

(a) Television or other audiovisual recordings of the public debates of each chamber of the Legislative Assembly and its committees may be used for any lawful purpose and without the imposition of any royalty due to the State or to any body. public or public company thereof.

(b) The costs of the legislature to comply with subsection (2) of subsection (c) of section 7 and subsection (2) of subsection (b) of section 8 of article IV of the California Constitution must be included in the total aggregate expenses allowed under section 7.5 of Article IV of the California Constitution.

In addition, Article 10248 of the Government Code has been amended to provide (additions are in italics):

Public computer network; legislative information required.

(a) The Legislative Counsel shall, with the advice of the Assembly Rules Committee and the Senate Rules Committee, make all of the following information available to the public in electronic form:

(1) The Legislative Calendar, the Schedule of Legislative Committee Hearings, a list of outstanding issues on the floors of both Houses of the Legislative Assembly, and a list of Legislative Assembly committees and their members.

(2) The text of each bill presented in each current legislative session, including each amended form, entered and chapter of each bill.

(3) The history of each bill presented and amended during each current legislative session.

(4) The bill status of each bill introduced and amended during each current legislative session.

(5) All the analyzes of bills prepared by legislative committees in relation to each bill during each current legislative session.

(6) All audio-visual recordings of legislative proceedings that have been made by the legislature pursuant to subsection (2) of subsection (c) of section 7 of article IV of the California Constitution. Each recording will remain accessible to the public via the Internet and downloadable for a minimum period of 20 years following the date on which the recording was made and will then be archived in a secure format.

(7) All voting information for each bill in each current legislative session.

(8) Any veto message concerning a bill in each current legislative session.

(9) California codes.

(10) The California Constitution.

(11) All laws adopted on or after January 1, 1993.

Following the adoption by the voters of Proposition 54, the public has the right to record legislative deliberations which they attend, for example with their mobile phone or laptop. In addition, the Legislative Assembly must record and make available audio and video recordings of legislative proceedings as soon as possible.

Finally, the final forms of bills must be printed for 3 days before they can be voted on by the legislators on the State Assembly and State Senate floors.

Bernard P. Love