BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  ACA 4
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          Date of Hearing:   April 30, 2013

                            ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON BUDGET
                               Bob Blumenfield, Chair
                    ACA 4 (Olsen) - As Amended:  January 23, 2013
           
          SUBJECT  :  Legislative Procedure

           SUMMARY  :  Imposes a requirement in the State Constitution to  
          require bills to be in print for 72 hours prior to adoption by  
          either house.  Specifically,  this bill  :

          1)Prohibits either house from passing a bill unless it has been  
            made available in print and on the internet for 72 hours prior  
            to the vote.



          2)Provides an exception for urgency bills related to a declared  
            emergency, as specified in the Constitution.



          3)Allows bills to be heard by committees after the contents of  
            the bill have been available on the internet for 15 days.


           EXISTING LAW  prohibits any bill (other than the budget bill)  
          from being heard or acted on by a committee or off the floor in  
          either house until the 31st day after being introduced unless  
          the house dispenses with this requirement by a roll call vote  
          with three fourths of the members concurring. 

           COMMENTS  :  The stated goal of this measure is to enhance  
          transparency by requiring all final legislation to be in print  
          for 72 hours prior to floor action in either house of the  
          Legislature.  It is unclear whether any benefits from this  
          additional requirement would out-weigh the considerable  
          downsides posed by the process consequences of the measure. 

          California's legislative work is more transparent now than at  
          any point in history.  This year marks the twentieth anniversary  
          of AB 1624 (Bowen), which required any legislative bill,  
          analysis, history, and voters to be made available via the  








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          internet.  Prior to the enactment of this bill, this information  
          was only available through the Capitol Bill Room and various  
          small publications that charged a fee to provide this  
          information.  Today anyone with access to the internet can see  
          the latest version of a bill, for free, at any time in a system  
          that is updated daily.

          Most bills considered by the Legislature are already in print  
          for 72 hours prior a vote.  Bills considered by the Legislature  
          that are in print in final form for less than 72 hours are  
          usually due to one of three scenarios:   the bill is part of a  
          hard fought, complicated compromise; the bill is part of the  
          budget package or; the bill has technical problems and needs to  
          be amended prior to final floor action.

          California's most significant compromises have been forged in a  
          crucible of pressure and heat from all sides that creates the  
          resolve for action.  Often in such circumstances, powerful  
          special interests may not be satisfied with the final agreement.  
           However, requiring a 72-hour in-print rule essentially creates  
          a three-day "time out period" on all legislation.  This time can  
          allow the resolve for action to dissipate, and special interests  
          can exert pressure and work to block carefully-crafted  
          agreements.  Thus, the 72 hour in print rule required by this  
          measure would be akin to requiring juries to wait three days  
          after making a decision to vote on the final verdict, the  
          waiting period allows courage and willpower to be undermined by  
          second thoughts and doubt.

          History provides many examples of transformative political  
          documents that have not been in print for long periods because  
          their adoption was the result of urgency and political resolve  
          to forge compromise.  After a lengthy debate and numerous  
          redrafts, the final version of the Declaration of Independence  
          was printed on July 1, 1776 and was adopted the next day on July  
          2, 1776.  Likewise, the framers of California's first  
          Constitution were still making language changes and debating the  
          State's boundaries less than two days before its adoption in  
          English and Spanish on October 13, 1849.

          The annual budget process often contains major policy provisions  
          necessary to balance the budget or to implement key budget  
          priorities, which often requires strong political resolve.  One  
          obvious example was the February 2009 budget package, which was  
          recognized as an example of historic, courageous action that  








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          saved the state from fiscal insolvency.  That budget agreement  
          was being updated and technically corrected up through the final  
          hours prior to the vote (including, ironically, the insertion of  
          SCA 4 (Maldonado), which set up the Open Primary).  This  
          agreement was not in print for 72 hours, but it did save the  
          state from insolvency and earned the four Legislative Leaders  
          the prestigious Profiles in Courage Award by the John F Kennedy  
          Library Foundation in 2010.  

          This measure would also severely narrow and hamstring the annual  
          budget process.  The passage of Proposition 25 in November of  
          2010 sent a clear signal to the Legislature that the passage of  
          a budget on time is a top budget priority for the public; the  
          measure even included financial penalties for members of the  
          Legislature if the budget was not passed by the deadline.   
          California's Constitution requires that the Legislature adopt  
          the budget on or before June 15th of each year, giving the  
          Legislature slightly more than four weeks from when it receives  
          the May Revision on May 14th to when it must enact the budget.   
          This bill would require about ten percent of that time-period to  
          be set aside for the bills to be in print on the floor at the  
          end of the process.   

          How would the Legislature accommodate this loss of time?   
          Because the current May -June process is already compacted, it  
          is difficult to envision how the process would accommodate this  
          requirement.  Should the time to analyze and hear the May  
          Revision proposals be shortened by three days, reducing the  
          chance for the public to participate in crafting of the budget  
          and requiring members to vote on provisions with less  
          information?  Or should the Senate and the Assembly have three  
          less days to reconcile their respective budgets into one unified  
          version of a budget package?  Perhaps the drafting process could  
          be shortened for the trailer bills and the over 800-page budget  
          bill, but that would further tax the hundreds of staff in  
          Department of Finance, Legislative Counsel, as well as the  
          Legislature and the Administration that develop the final budget  
          package, potentially resulting in significant errors in their  
          work product.    

          Because the budget process is based on a finite schedule, there  
          is no room to accommodate this print requirement without  
          undermining the quality of the process and the budget  
          legislation.  Therefore, these costs should be considered when  
          weighing the merits of this bill. 








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          This measure would also make the small technical changes at the  
          end of session more difficult to accommodate.  These include a  
          common practice of eliminating an urgency clause from a measure,  
          to allow a measure to be adopted with only a majority vote.  In  
          addition, bills often amend the same sections of code and  
          technical changes are necessary so that the measures don't  
          chapter out the provisions of a different bill.  Under the  
          provision of this measure, either of these changes would trigger  
          a 72-hour in-print requirement, which will mean it will add  
          complexity to the final days of each legislative session.

          Therefore, while this measure has the admirable goal of  
          increasing transparency, California has a relatively transparent  
          legislative process and a long history of important agreements  
          that were quickly passed.  Moreover, adding new time  
          requirements may actually strengthen special interests ability  
          to upset legislative agreements and harm the already condensed  
          budget process. 

          The provisions contained in this measure were also contained in  
          Proposition 31 of November 2012, which was rejected by voters  
          with 39.5 percentage of the electorate voting in favor of the  
          measure.

           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :   

           Support 
           
          Board of Supervisors County of Madera
          California Common Cause
          California Contract Cities Association
          California Newspaper Publishers Association
          City of Gilroy
          City of Goleta
          City of Scotts Valley
          City of South San Francisco
          City of Rancho Cucamonga
          League of California Cities 
          Orange County Taxpayers Association
          Rural Counties
          Town of Danville

           Opposition 
           








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          None on File.
           

          Analysis Prepared by  :    Christian Griffith / BUDGET / (916)  
          319-2099