Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) and California State Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) introduced identical legislation in the Senate and Assembly intending to provide public access to legislation and increase community response. The proposed bill requires all legislation to be accessible online or in print for 72 hours before it is passed to the Senate or Assembly.
Olsen, author of the Assembly Constitutional Amendment 4, hopes the bipartisan effort will help the public to stay confident in their government. Both representatives believe public involvement will keep the legislators on their toes, and strengthen their accountability and clarity.
“Each year, the Legislature passes bills requiring greater transparency of various agencies and local governments. However, in many instances it fails to hold itself accountable to those same standards of open, transparent, citizen-driven government. ACA 4 and SCA 10 will help ensure stakeholders have an opportunity to voice their opposition or support, and that legislators have the time to thoughtfully consider each piece of legislation,” said Olsen.
Wolk said that approximately 5,000 legislative proposals were shared between the Senate and Assembly within the last two years. Hundreds of those propositions became laws, many of which were not commonly known to the public.
“Last minute changes to bills can leave legislators unsure of what they are voting on, and prevent the public from weighing in on proposals. If approved by voters, this constitutional amendment would ensure public access to laws before they are passed from the Legislature while maintaining sufficient flexibility for the Legislature to do its work,” Wolk commented.
SCA 10/ACA 4 requires all legislative proposals, except those required in a state of emergency by the Governor, to be publically available for a minimum of 72 hours before being passed by either house.
The bills could be placed on the 2014 ballot.