State Capitol

Effort to curb ‘gut and amend’ bills — stripping contents of a proposed legislation and inserting all-new language — is going nowhere.

By Marc Lifsher
May 26, 2013, 7:36 p.m.

SACRAMENTO — At the state Capitol, no bill is ever dead.

Even the most moribund measure can be resurrected and sent to the governor, especially if leaders want to pass something without holding a bunch of hearings.

That’s when a sneaky technique called “gut and amend” comes into play.

That’s legislative lingo for taking an idle bill, stripping its contents and inserting all-new language. In a flash, a bill that dealt with community college transfer students turns into one that eases environmental reviews to build a Los Angeles football stadium.

Typically, lobbyists, lawmakers and staff resort to this trick in the closing days or hours of a legislative session. Often, many bleary members grouse that they are asked to vote on bills that they know little or nothing about.

But now, an unlikely, bipartisan coalition of government reformers, anti-tax activists, cities and rural counties wants to curb these gut and amends.

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