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Prop 54 Publishing Bills Before Voting

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Updated at 1:30 PM Nov. 9, 2016


Prop 54 has passed by a margin of 64.3% yes and 35.7% no. Bills before the state legislature will have to be printed and posted online three days before a vote, and public legislative sessions will be recorded and put online. 

What would Prop 54 do?

Prop 54 would make a change in the law making process in Sacramento. It would require that:

  • Every bill is published in print and posted online at least three days before the state Senate or Assembly votes on it. 
  • Audio and video recordings be made of the legislature’s public proceedings and put online within 24 hours.
  • Individuals be allowed to record audio or video of any public legislative proceeding. (They could not record closed sessions.)
  • Recordings be archived and available for use for any legitimate purpose without charge.

The publishing provision would take effect January 2017. The audiovisual recording provision would take effect a year later, in January 2018.
Why did Prop 54 come about?

It was written to end something called “gut and amend.” This is the term used in Sacramento for a process that seems crazy but actually happens. “Gut and amend” is when a bill about one subject – say pensions--- is “gutted” at the last minute replaced  with something completely different – like fire prevention. Then the legislators vote on it before anyone had time to react. Didn’t I tell you it seemed crazy?

How much would Prop 54 cost?

The legislative analyst says it would cost about $1 million a year to record the sessions. In the first year it would cost between $1 and $2 million to set up a system.

What are the arguments in favor of Prop 54?

Supporters say:

  • Prop 54 would put an end to “gut and amend” which makes a mockery of democracy.
  • It would make government more transparent by allowing the public to see and react to bill before they are voted on.
  • It would reduce the power of special interests by prohibiting last minute changes to bills.
  • 96 local governments in California videotape public meetings. Sacramento should too.
  • The existing budget would cover the costs. Taxpayers would not have to pay anything more for this service.

What are the arguments against Prop 54?

Opponents say:

  • Prop 54 would slow down the law making process. Every little change will mean delaying the process by three days.
  • Prop 54 serves the interest of the billionaire who is using Prop 54 to pursue his own political agenda. (See info on funders below.)
  • It would hinder the ability of lawmakers to develop bi-partisan solutions. For example the Fair Housing Act would not have passed if Prop 54 had been in place.
  • It would give special interests more power by giving them time to launch campaigns against bipartisan compromises.
  • It would increase the use of attack ads during political campaigns.

Who supports Prop 54?

There is one major backer of Prop 54. He is Charles Munger, Jr. a wealthy Republican activist. (He’s a Stanford physicist by profession.)  The other main proponent is State Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee from San Luis Obispo.

As far as organizations go, there are at least forty different groups that support Prop 54. About half a dozen are good government groups including California Common Cause and the League of Women Voters of California. There are many chambers of commerce, business groups and taxpayer organizations as well including the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association and the California Taxpayers Association.

Who opposes Prop 54?

There are two opponents to Prop 54 – the California Democratic Party and the California Labor Federation.

Who is funding Prop 54?

Charles Munger, Jr. is the only donor behind Prop 54 so far.  As of mid-August he has contributed $6.6 million to get Prop 54 passed.

Show me the money:

What does a “yes” or “no” vote mean?

A “yes” vote means you want bills to be made public three days before they are voted on, and you want audiovisual recordings made of public sessions.

A “no” vote means you want no changes to the way things are now.

Click here for a cheat sheet on all the California ballot propositions.

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