Prop 54 has been backed almost universally by media and good government groups. Only a few dead-end Democrats and brain-dead bloggers provide any opposition.
It’s been called motherhood and apple pie. Apply transparency to the legislative process! Don’t let lawmakers make deals and debate without the lights and cameras on. Every bill must be published in print and online for at least 72 hours before the legislature can vote on it. Make all legislative proceedings open, with audio and visual recordings, and publish the recordings online within 24 hours.
Now, I’m one of those terrible skeptics who think that the legislature already works under too many restrictions on its discretion, and thus is kept from making the big, difficult decisions we need. So why add more?
But it looks like Prop 54 will pass. And in that case, it won’t go far enough. If we’re going to provide its transparency and constant cameras to the lawmaking, why should we exempt a whole branch of the legislative process?
That exempted branch is direct democracy. Initiatives—statutes and constitutional amendments—are legislating, but Prop 54 doesn’t bring transparency to that process. The backers of Prop 54 have exempted themselves.
And since they believe in transparency so wholly, I’m sure they don’t want that. So they would be quick to back my proposal to apply Prop 54 to the initiative process.
All meetings on the drafting of initiatives – be they in lawyers’ offices, or hotel conference rooms or at Common Cause – should be open to the public. And they should be recorded, audio and visual, and put on the Internet within 24 hours. And any legislation they produce should be made available to the public. Indeed, you must post any initiative draft more than 72 hours before it is filed with the attorney general.
Who could object? There are powerful interests and rich people involved in this lawmaking. Why should they be shielded from this kind of transparency?
I’m sure the backers of Prop 54 regret not having thought of this themselves. As a sign of good faith, I’m sure they’ll immediately release all records of their deliberations.
Because the principle behind Prop 54 is transparency and the right to know. It’s in no way a political attack on an unpopular group of people – politicians – and their ability to maneuver. Right?