On Friday, Joe Mathews took to this page to argue that Proposition 54, demanding more transparency in the legislative process, is ill advised. He took on a George Skelton column in the L.A. Times that equated Prop 54 with motherhood and apple pie, claiming mothers would object to the goals of the initiative. However, I think the ingredients in Joe’s pie are half-baked.

Boil down his argument to the frustration he has with what he calls small reforms: redistricting, top-two primary and now Prop 54, which requires legislation to appear in print for 72 hours and provides for filming legislative hearings. He wants big changes that will allow legislators to make deals and use traditional political coercion to punish opponents and push through legislative changes.

How else to interpret his charge that the redistricting commission has removed a legislative tool to force agreement with the majority by allowing legislators to draw colleagues’ districts?

Joe raises the concern of a bill being in print for 72 hours allowing lobbyists and special interests to object to the law and rally support against it. On a scale of political justice is that a greater sin than legislators taking a bill, pulling out its content, and substituting unrelated language and rushing the bill to the floor for a final vote? How many legislators have time to consider such a bill?

Some might remember a book written by former state Senator H. L. Richardson published decades ago under the title: What Makes You Think We Read the Bills? Under the 72 hour rule, there would be time to read the bills.

And it is not only lobbyist that can use the 72 hours to examine legislation. Citizens and citizen groups can, as well.

I would agree with Joe’s objection that more restrictions on fundraising forces legislators to be full time fundraisers and part time legislators.

But, we clearly have a disagreement on what is Joe’s bottom line. The big changes he wants would make it easier to tax and spend. He objects to the two-thirds vote to pass revenue raisers. Not all solutions to difficult problems come with a price tag.

Joe wants compromise and deal making, which he says, Prop 54 would thwart. This plays into his suggestion expressed previously on this site to let the legislature act and allow for referendums against objectionable action. The truth of the matter is with nearly 800 bills passed on to the governor, the burden of dealing with a number of objectionable measures by referendum would be expensive and nearly impossible.

Shining a light for 72 hours on questionable bills or bills gutted and replaced the last minute is a responsible move giving legislators, citizens, and yes, even lobbyists, a chance to consider the potential consequences of legislative action.