BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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          Date of Hearing:  May 7, 2015 


                            ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON BUDGET


                                Shirley Weber, Chair


          ACA 1  
          (Olsen) - As Introduced December 1, 2014


          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)  








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          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. 


          FISCAL EFFECT:  Possible impacts of the measure are discussed  
          below.  


          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.  According to the author, "?the citizens of  
          California deserve a transparent government and legislative  
          body.  They should be given the opportunity to review all bills  
          for at least 72 hours before they are voted on.  And legislators  
          should be given adequate time to analyze a bill before a vote in  
          order to make a sound decision." 


          Most bills considered by the Legislature are, under current law,  
          in print for at least 72 hours prior a vote.  This measure would  
          impose a strict no-exceptions policy that would require all  
          bills to be in print for this time period, except during a  
          declared disaster.  This more rigid policy, if adopted, would  
          meet part of the author's stated goal, while it may severely  
          limit the flexibility of the Legislature to craft difficult  
          compromises, take amendments to respond to citizens, or make  
          technical fixes such as adopting chaptering amendments or  
          striking an urgency clause from a bill.


          Bills considered by the Legislature that are in print in final  
          form for less than 72 hours are conventionally driven by 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.








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          One example of the need for flexibility is the difficult  
          bipartisan political compromise necessary to tackle California's  
          profound drought.  AB 1471, which created Proposition 1, the  
          2014 Water Package required weeks of negotiation to develop and  
          was adopted on the last possible day for the measure to be  
          included on the November 2014 ballot.  As a result, the bill was  
          amended in the Senate, concurred by the Assembly, and signed by  
          the Governor all on the same day.  Thus, the bill language was  
          only been in print for a few hours prior to adoption.   
          Proposition 1 was adopted by 67.1 percent of voters and is the  
          centerpiece of the State's response to the drought.


          The urgent need to act regarding the drought continued in the  
          recent effort to appropriate funds authorized by Proposition 1.   
          In order to get needed projects underway, the Legislature  
          adopted the 2015 water package in two bills, AB 91 and AB 92 in  
          March of this year.  Both of these bills were amended two days  
          prior to the vote, which in turn means that the bill was in  
          print for only one day.  


          Another example was the February 2009 budget package, which was  
          recognized as an example of historic, courageous action that  
          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, the insertion of SCA 4  
          (Maldonado), which created the Open Primary.  This agreement was  
          not in print for 72 hours, but it was credited with saving 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 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,  








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          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.


          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  








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          work product.  


          Because the budget process is based on a finite schedule, there  
          is not 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. 


          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  
          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.


          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.












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          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support


          California Newspaper Publishers Association


          California Tax Payers Association 


          Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association 


          League of California Cities 




          Opposition


          None on File 





          Analysis Prepared by:Christian Griffith/ Budget/ 916-319-2099














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