JEFFRIES BILL TO END SECRET DEALS

Introduces ACA 8 to require public notice on all legislation
Today Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries (R-Lake Elsinore) threw down the gauntlet in defense of California voters. “The time has come for the California Legislature to put an end to back room deals being passed in the dead of night,” declared Assemblyman Jeffries who today introduced ACA 8, which would prohibit the Legislature from taking action on any item that has not been noticed and publicly posted for at least 72 hours.

Since coming to Sacramento in 2006, Assemblyman Jeffries has advocated for transparent government and an open legislative process. However, he has come to discover that this is not how the California Legislature conducts its business. “Last minute ‘gut and amends,’ asked to vote on measures minutes after receiving the bill, you name it; the things that are demanded of us defies all decorum of good government.” points out Jeffries, “if the public truly knew how things are run up here they would be outraged. Local governments have to comply with similar posting requirements in the Brown Act, why shouldn’t the Legislature?”

The most recent impetus for this measure comes out of the current budget crisis. During the special session to address the current budget crisis, Legislators were given bill language for numerous taxing and spending measures by the Assembly Speaker only a few hours before they were asked to cast a vote on them. “How can I be asked to vote on a bill that I haven’t had a chance to read?” asked Jeffries. “And how can my constituents participate and comment on the impacts a bill or tax will have on them and their families if even their elected representatives don’t have copies of the bill to review? A democratic society requires the ability for the people and their representatives to know what is happening to them before it is too late. There is absolutely no legislation so important that it can’t wait 72 hours for the people and the press and the legislators to properly review the text first, and I challenge anyone to argue otherwise.”

As a constitutional amendment, ACA 8 requires a two-thirds vote in both houses of the legislature and passage by a majority of California voters. “This amendment reinforces the bedrock principles of the First Amendment and public participation in our government, and I am confident that if the people of this state have the opportunity to vote for this measure, it will pass overwhelmingly. Frankly, I can’t even imagine an intelligent opposition campaign being waged on this issue,” said the Assemblyman. “The only motive for not passing this legislation is to keep the people in the dark.”