SACRAMENTO - Today, Assembly Bill 1730 by Assemblymember Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, to shine light on the legislative process was killed by the Assembly Election Committee on a party-line vote.
AB 1730, the Legislative Transparency Act, would have increased transparency in the Legislature by requiring all bills to be in print and available online for at least 72-hours before legislative actions. The Act also requires all members of the Legislature to post their monthly office and committee budgets on their state websites. Finally, AB 1730 requires 24-hour online campaign reporting of funds received over $100 dollars during the week of legislative house of origin, budget and end-of-session deadlines.
"AB 1730 would have ended the midnight votes on backroom deals and brought greater transparency to the taxpayers" said Olsen. "This would allow all stakeholders to be at the table and voice their concerns or support. We should hold ourselves to the same transparency standards that we pass onto local governments and other agencies and organizations."
"AB 1730 would have brought the much needed transparency to the Legislature," said Philip Ung, Policy Advocate from California Common Cause. "The public should have a chance to review and respond to legislation that will affect their everyday lives, and the Legislature needs to end the practice of 'gut and amends' bills."
Last year, the Legislature fought to conceal its budgets from the public, costing over $200,000 in attorney fees. The court ruled that under the Legislative Open Records Act, the public has the right to access members' budgets. AB 1730 merely codifies this ruling into statue.
Bills that go through the regular legislative process had only a 35% chance of passing compared to 46% for "gut and amended" bills last year. Having an open and transparent process helps to create better legislation and prevents mistakes and embarrassments when the process is circumvented.
Assemblymember Olsen plans to reintroduce the bill next year.