Four years ago, despite fierce opposition from Democratic politicians, California voters passed Proposition 54, a constitutional amendment requiring the Legislature to be more transparent.
Nearly two-thirds of the state’s voters backed Proposition 54, which requires final versions of legislative bills to be in print and online at least 72 hours before final votes. It also requires the Legislature to make audiovisual recordings of its meetings and place them online within 24 hours.
It was aimed at the insidious practice of drafting bills in the dead of night, especially “trailer bills” to the state budget loaded with special interest goodies, and enacting them before anyone had an opportunity to know what they contained.
Lawmakers didn’t like the new law and have connived to get around it whenever they could. And now, a newly drafted constitutional amendment would not only undermine major portions of Proposition 54, but give legislators new authority to act secretly. They could even bar the public from their meetings, whenever the governor declares an emergency — such as the one Gov. Gavin Newsom has decreed during the coronavirus pandemic.