Legislative transparency constitutional amendment proposed in California

January 23, 2013

A constitutional amendment to increase legislative transparency has been proposed in California. According to the Los Angeles Times:

A bipartisan group of California lawmakers concerned by the past rushing of legislation has proposed asking voters to require all bills to be in print and online for 72 hours before final passage.

Sen. Lois Wolk (D- Davis) and Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) have introduced identical bills with the aim of improving transparency in the Legislature.

Wolk noted that in the last two-year session, the Legislature considered nearly 5,000 bills. 'While most of those proposals were publicly shared and well-vetted, some were not,' Wolk said. 'Last-minute changes to bills can leave legislators unsure of what they are voting on, and prevent the public from weighing in on proposals.'

California Senate Constitutional Amendment 10 would require that: 

No bill may be passed in either house until the bill, in the form to be voted on, has been made available to the public, in print and published on the Internet, for at least 72 hours before the vote.

Despite widespread support in Washington, no bill has been introduced or considered by our Legislature to improve legislative transparency since the hearing on SB 5419 in 2011.

On the first day of session a broad based coalition of good government, media and business groups signed a letter encouraging state lawmakers to adopt the Washington Policy Center's proposed legislative transparency reforms that would:

  • Provide mandatory public notice and waiting periods before legislative action;

  • Ban title only bills; and

  • Subject the legislature to the same transparency requirements that are placed on local governments.

Since that letter was delivered the Association of Washington State Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce have added their support.

WPC's legislative transparency reforms have also been endorsed by former State Auditor Brian Sonntag and Attorney General Rob McKenna.

Additional Information
Coalition calls on lawmakers to adopt legislative transparency reforms
NCSL: Minimum Time the Legislature Must Review the Budget before Vote
NCSL: Openness of Caucus Meetings