66th District Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries has introduced a series of bills and constitutional amendments that seek to reform some of what’s wrong in Sacramento. Until we replace about 2/3 of the legislature with honest citizen legislators on a part-time basis we won’t be able to resolve all the issues but this package is a good start.
Yesterday I wrote about AB 1672 which seeks to make the powerful and unaccountable Air Resources Board an elected body instead of the current patronage appointee body. Jeffries has five others in the hopper which, unfortunately, make too much sense to gain much traction in our Capitol.
According to Jeffries, “It is becoming increasingly clear that in addition to the economic and budgetary problems we face in Sacramento, we have serious problems with the way the people’s business is conducted. Too many decisions are made in the dead of night or behind closed doors. How can we possibly arrive at the right solutions for our state when the process itself is so badly broken?”
AB 1671 – Riverside County recently suffered a vacancy on our Board of Supervisors following the untimely death of a member. The position sat vacant with the county being unable to field a quorum on some issues while we waited for the Governor to appoint a replacement. AB 1671 gets the Governor out of what should be a local decision allowing locally elected and accountable county boards to fill their own vacancies or call a special election to fill mid-term vacancies.
ACA 29 – Would create a 2 year budget cycle in which the first year wold be entirely devoted to passing a budget and reviewing our spending priorities. The second year would be devoted to policy matter, programs and oversight. This would allow school districts, local governments and private industry more certainty in their dealings with Sacramento and their own budget process and would eliminate the annual budget wars that consume most of our year every year.
ACA 30 – Seeks to abolish the office of Lieutenant Governor. This waste of space office has few, if any, official duties, it sucks up unnecessary tax dollars for an antiquated and largely ceremonial position, and the duties could easily be assumed by the Secretary of State’s office. Lieutenant Governor has been referred to as the ‘easiest elected job in Sacramento’ and is a running joke even for those elected. The position is currently vacant and most people don’t even know it.
ACA 31 – The ‘Sunshine Law’ would require all legislative sessions (except in limited emergency situations) to be conducted between the hours of 9am and 9 pm. In recent years our budget battles have resulted in ‘lockdowns’ where our legislators were literally locked into chambers overnight until a bill was passed. This has resulted in some really stupid stuff getting passed out of sight of the public and the media. Media’s role is largely relegated to posting pictures of lawmakers sleeping at their desks while the public is prevented from knowing what’s going on until it’s too late.
ACA 8 – This is not a new bill but one that Jeffries is hopeful will see the light of day this year. This bill would require all legislation to be in print at least 24 hours prior to a vote. It would eliminate Sacramento’s propensity to dump hundreds of pages of a bill onto a legislators desk minutes before a vote is taken. This bill, designed to shine a light on back room deals, has been help hostage in a committee back room for over a year.
“All these bills are serious challenges to the status quo but I believe these ideas can increase public involvement and accountability, reduce bureaucracy, and start returning power to local governments and away from state government that has proven itself incapable of governing in an open and deliberative manner.”
Well, good luck with that, Kevin. Here’s hoping at least a couple of these get passed – but given the current state of affairs in Sacramento, I’m not too optomistic.