California lawmakers have given up on trying to reach a deal with backers of a November ballot measure that would require bills to be in print for 72 hours before their final legislative votes. The initiative officially qualified for the ballot on Monday.
“We gave it the good college try,” says Craig Reynolds, chief of staff to Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis), who was leading the push to reach a legislative solution.
Democratic leaders have long resisted efforts from lawmakers in both parties - including Wolk - to require bills to be public 72 hours before a vote.
But after former Republican state Sen. Sam Blakeslee and billionaire GOP activist Charles Munger submittedn voter signatures to place an initiative on the November ballot, Wolk tried to arrange a compromise under which initiative backers would withdraw their proposal – and the Legislature would place its measure on the ballot instead.
“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,” Wolk told Capital Public Radio earlier this month.
Republicans, who often complain of having to vote on bills they have had little time to analyze after being left out of negotiations, were skeptical of the legislative push – as were the initiative’s backers.
“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,” Asm. Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) said earlier this month.
In the end, it may have been a secondary part of the initiative that led to negotiations falling through. The measure would also allow the public to record - and even live-stream - legislative proceedings, and use audio and video in campaign ads. That issue appears to have proven too thorny to sort out.