Walters: New bill blocks voters from knowing what officials are doing


Senate Bill 863 is a double dose of sneakiness — combining, in just 17 words, two separate efforts to block Californians from knowing what their elected officials are doing.

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First of all, it continues the unseemly practice of misusing “budget trailer bills” for purposes that are unrelated to the budget.

When voters decreed a few years back that the state budget no longer needed a two-thirds legislative vote to pass, they unwittingly applied that looser standard to those ancillary measures that traditionally were written to implement the budget’s appropriations.

Since the budget and its trailer bills take effect immediately upon being signed by the governor, and therefore are immune to a challenge by referendum, it was an invitation for governors and legislators to load them up with decrees unrelated to the budget.

Dozens of trailer bills are drafted only a few days, and sometimes a few hours, before their enactment. Because they are also exempt from the usual legislative procedures, such as waiting periods and committee hearings, they have become vehicles for doing things on the sly.

It’s why some folks around the Capitol call them “mushroom bills” that sprout in the dark, fertilized with manure.

In this particular case, Senate Bill 863 suspends, for two years, legislation that passed in 2017 requiring local government and school bond measures to give voters some straightforward information about their financial effects.

Voters were to be told, among other things, the property tax rates that would be required to service the proposed bond issues, how many years the additional taxes would be in effect and how much money they would raise every year.

Local officials didn’t like the new transparency requirements and complained that they were …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics

      

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