By Dan Walters
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013 – 12:00 am | Page 3A
When members of the California Legislature pass legislation, they are, in effect, writing rules they expect everyone to obey.
It’s particularly strange, therefore, that legislators skirt, or even ignore, the rules they are supposed to follow.
Take, for example, what happened during the long Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.
Under the state constitution, legislators get $142 a day in tax-free living expenses on top of their salaries, as long as they are not out of session for more than three consecutive days – hence, the legislative schedule of being in Sacramento from Monday to Thursday.
Monday holidays interfere with that self-serving schedule. The Legislature’s time-dishonored solution is to convene briefly on Friday mornings, then flee and return the following Tuesday for another brief “per-diem session,” as it’s known.
It is, simply, bending the rules for personal gain.
And then there are the procedural rules, which supposedly govern the flow of legislation through the Capitol. But routinely, when those rules – having bills in print for public inspection, for example – interfere with what the majority party wants to do, they are waived, thus allowing major measures to be rushed through before any serious opposition can coalesce.
Now that Democrats have two-thirds supermajorities in both legislative houses, waiving procedural rules becomes even easier, so we should expect an even greater flood of written-in- secret bills this summer.
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