Proposition 54

Proposition 54 – 72 Hour Publication Of Legislative Bills Prior To Passage

California has among the strongest open-government laws, requiring almost all legislative action to be publically available. This proposition seeks to extend this concept by requiring that all bills be published for 72 hours prior to any vote absent a designated emergency and requires most activity to be available via video on the Internet. The proposition has overwhelming support and no real organized opposition – while this makes it more difficult to analyze, ultimately we conclude that there is good reason for the dearth of opposition.

The primary opponent to this measure is the Democratic Party, though it is not funding any “no” campaign; nor for that matter is anyone else. That makes us wonder how serious the “no” camp is or even if it really exists. We think the L.A. Times’ decidedly centrist take on this initiative is correct; essentially while it isn’t really going to be the panacea its proponents claim, the initiative does provide a level of “openness” that is compelling[1]. It concurrently would also stop the ability to “gut and amend” – meaning to circulate a particular draft legislation, only to dramatically change it shortly before a vote without alerting voting legislators to the change[2].

We can think of some problems that could arise with this proposed change – notably that it could slow down the legislative process and will require continued 3-day “wait periods” even if minor or insignificant changes to a bill are made. Still, we think the benefits[3] of openness offered by this proposition outweigh the negatives that we can hypothesize. Put another way, when the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association, The Republican Party, Charles Munger (whom we’ve criticized in the past[4]), Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, NAACP, and a number of Chambers of Commerce are all in agreement we think one of two possibilities is before us: (1) the apocalypse is upon us, or (2) there is a worthwhile proposition on the ballot. Hopefully we are correct that we are facing “option 2.”

Recommendation: Moderate YES

[1] http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/

[2] http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2016/07/25/editorial-prop-54-helps-bring-sacramento-transparency/

[3] http://www.pe.com/articles/prop-815238-california-public.html

[4] XXXXLink to priorXXX.

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