Start watching
Tending Nature poster 2021

Tending Nature

Start watching

Southland Sessions

Start watching

Earth Focus

Start watching

Reporter Roundup

Start watching

City Rising

Start watching

Lost LA

Start watching
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement and Special Events teams.

California Legislators Want Their Gifts


Last week California lawmakers killed a bill that would have prohibited them (and members of their families and other officials) from accepting certain gifts from lobbyists and their employers. Those seeking to curry favor with Golden State legislators take note. The gates of access remain open, for some.

The state Senate Appropriations Committee, which prohibited the bill from even being put to a floor vote of our lawmakers, said the cost of enforcing the restrictions (an estimated $204,000) was too expensive. Of course, what lawmakers failed to consider is that the cost of fines could essentially cover the cost of policing the restrictions.

Disclosure statements show that our public servants accepted well over half a million dollars in gifts in 2010. The ban would have covered many of those gifts, including tickets to amusements parks, sporting events, and concerts. The bill also would have extended to spa treatments and fishing and golfing trips, among other things.

Under current law, a lobbyist's employer can give each official a gift worth $420 each year. Lobbyists can give a state official no more than $10 per month.

Alas Republican State Senator's bill, SB-18, is unlikely to see a floor vote or the light of day. The Appropriations Committee has seen to that. It is in the ominous "suspense file," which in this case is the place where good government reforms go to die.

Legislators, whose approval ratings are at all time lows, have once again failed to take any steps to attempt to build public trust and support. Why should the public's perception of their elected officials, and the integrity of governmental processes stand in the way of a good seat to a Dodger game or a nice day at the spa?

In a time of such skepticism about our public officials, when so many feel officials serve those with money first, and those who vote second, Senate Bill 18 would have been a step in the right direction. California's political watchdog, the Fair Political Practices Commission, is considering similar regulations. As a member of the California electorate, I hope those pass. Legislators seem unwilling to police themselves.

Jessica Levinson writes about the intersection of law and government every Monday. She is an Adjunct Professor at Loyola Law School and the Director of Political Reform at a non-profit, non-partisan think tank.

The photo used on this post is by Flickr user JD Hancock. It was used under a Creative Commons License.

Support Provided By
Support Provided By
Read More
un mazo de juez de madera

Justicia retrasada: tribunales abrumados por el atraso de la pandemia

Desde la manutención de los hijos hasta el fraude de seguros, los casos judiciales se retrasan en todo California. Solo la mitad de los casos civiles y penales se resolvieron el verano pasado en comparación con las cifras anteriores a la pandemia. “La justicia no se ha cerrado. La justicia se ha ralentizado”, según un grupo de abogados.
A gavel on a table

Justice Delayed: Courts Overwhelmed by Pandemic Backlog

From child support to insurance fraud, court cases are delayed throughout California. Only half as many civil and criminal cases were resolved last summer compared with pre-pandemic numbers. “Justice has not shut down. Justice has slowed down,” according to an attorneys’ group.
People pull up in their vehicles for Covid-19 vaccines in the parking lot of The Forum in Inglewood, California on January 19, 2021. | FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

L.A. County Expands COVID Vaccines to Residents 65 And Older

L.A. County began scheduling COVID-19 vaccination appointments for those aged 65 and older today, but limited supplies and uncertainty about future allocations has left the inoculation effort shrouded in doubt.