Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
June 27, 2016 – 3:29 PM

  • Competing measures would require more notice on bills
  • Each side says the other’s proposal is flawed
  • Deadline for November ballot looms this week

It’s showdown time for two fiercely competitive measures that would give the public more time to see legislative bills before they are passed.

Charles Munger Jr., a wealthy Stanford University physicist and major player in California politics, and former Republican state Sen. Sam Blakeslee have qualified their ballot measure, which would require any bill to be posted on the internet and in print for 72 hours before a final vote.

Legislative leaders, meanwhile, have hastily written their own 72-hour notice measure, Senate Constitutional Amendment 14, as an alternative, clearly hoping that Munger and Blakeslee will remove their measure from the November ballot by Thursday’s deadline – something they insist won’t happen.

However, SCA 14 still needs a two-thirds Assembly vote, which means support from at least two Republican members – possible but unlikely at the moment – and also faces Thursday’s legal deadline. The Legislature, though, has stretched the deadline for its measures in the past.
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In a series of recent amendments, the convoluted wording of SCA 14, which appeared to be less than a firm 72-hour mandate, has been simplified. The chief difference appears that while the Munger-Blakeslee measure requires printed and internet versions of bills to be available 72 hours in advance, SCA 14 requires only internet posting.

Initiative sponsors say that’s a major flaw in SCA 14, while Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, who is carrying SCA 14, claims the initiative has “critical flaws” in its notice requirement.

Potentially, the more important differences have to do with how video of legislative proceedings is broadcast and archived, and the right of the public to record those proceedings itself.

Long-standing state law prohibits commercial or political uses of legislative recordings, and before this month, critics of the Munger-Blakeslee measure claimed that its true purpose was to use them for what spokesman Steve Maviglio called “15-second attack ads.”

To read expanded column, click here.