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Ballot Measure Prompts Legislature To Consider New Transparency Rules

Ben Bradford/Capital Public Radio
 

Ben Bradford/Capital Public Radio

Democrats who control the California Legislature have long opposed efforts to require bills to be public 72 hours before final votes. But now that a voter initiative is poised to qualify for the November ballot, the sands appear to be shifting a bit.

Asm. Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) says she’s skeptical that Democratic legislative leaders truly want a 72-hour rule in place, since she’s pushed proposals like this for years without ever being allowed a vote.

“Now, suddenly, with the threat of an initiative, all of a sudden they’re scrambling to pass a bill – it’s hard to believe it wouldn’t be a significantly weakened version of transparency,” Olsen says. “I’m awfully skeptical that Democrat leadership is eager to do this, knowing that there’s a very popular measure on the ballot.“

But Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis), who has also long supported this rule, says she’s working to reach a compromise under which initiative backers would withdraw their proposal – and the Legislature would place its measure on the ballot instead.

“I happen to think that there’s a great deal of merit in the proposed initiative,” Wolk says. “The Legislature is the place to sort of work out these issues and make sure that there isn’t something that will come back and create a problem later,” such as legal challenges to the initiative.

The Legislature will hold a hearing on the ballot proposal Wednesday and could vote on its own measures later this week.