In their just completed session, California legislators expressed deep concern about transparency, democracy and good government.
Sen. Mark DeSaulnier authored Senate Bill 448 to mandate “a little transparency” in the initiative petition process. The legislation would have forced citizens paid to circulate petitions to wear a sign on their chests reading: “Paid Signature Gatherer.”
But Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the bill, stating, “I choose not to go down this slippery slope where the state decides what citizens must wear when petitioning their government.”
On the very last day of the session, Sen. Loni Hancock became concerned about democracy. “Low turnout elections do not represent the needs, priorities and desires of the larger electorate,” she decried.
So she stuffed new wording into one of her languishing bills, SB 202, to force all citizen initiatives to the November ballot. (Measures referred by legislators would, under SB 202, continue to go onto any ballot legislators desire.) In less than 24 hours, the bill was introduced, hearings were announced and held only minutes later, and the bill was rammed through both chambers.
Sen. Hancock pronounced this “good government.”
Legislators shouldn’t “gerrymander” which election citizen-initiated measures are voted upon for their own political purposes and those of their preferred special interests — in this case, public employee unions. Nor should new legislation be introduced and passed in a single day, without the public having time to communicate with their representatives.
That’s not transparency. It’s not democracy. And it’s not good government.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.