Much required of Democratic Legislature

Steinberg - DarrellDec. 14, 2012

By Joseph Perkins

I met Darrell Steinberg last week. The state Senate president pro tem said that he and his fellow Democrats recognize the awesome responsibility that comes with the supermajorities they now enjoy in both chambers of the Legislature.

To which I say, facta, non verba.  Or, for those who are rusty on their Latin, “deeds, not words.”

I’m not referring so much to the several thousand bills that will be introduced during the upcoming legislative session, some of which will deserve passage, most of which will not (if recent sessions provide a clue to what we can expect).

No, I’m talking about how the Legislature itself does business. The Democratic supermajority can ease fears that it will abuse its near absolute power in Sacramento by adopting internal rules that encourage transparency and accountability by lawmakers themselves.

They suggestion is that they begin with the following proposed rules:

* No more Assembly vote altering. The state Assembly currently allows members to add or change their votes after legislation has already been decided on the Assembly floor. The insidious practice allows lawmakers to vote one way, to look good to their constituents back home, and the opposite way, to stay in good graces with special interests.

Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, defended vote altering last week for the most specious of reasons. “Sometimes,” he said, “the call of nature comes when one is on the floor of the Legislature. And they go and avail themselves of facilities and come back. And they will miss a vote.”

Apparently, Perez and his fellow Assembly members have weaker bladders than Steinberg and his fellow senators. Because Senate rules do not allow members to switch their votes after the fact.

* Reinstate Proposition 25 sanctions. California voters approved the so-called On-Time Budget Act of 2010, ending the previous requirement of a two-thirds majority.

In exchange for lowering the bar — which made it easier for the Democratic less-than-super-majority to pass the annual budget — the ballot measure called for lawmakers to forfeit pay for every day they fail to enact a budget beyond the June 15 deadline set forth in the state Constitution.

The very first year the law took effect, the Legislature passed a budget that was unbalanced by $1.85 billion, according to state Controller John Chiang. So he proceeded to withhold lawmakers’ pay until they produced a truly balanced budget.

Steinberg and fellow Democratic leaders sued, arguing that Chiang overstepped his authority. And a state court agreed. So Prop. 25 has turned out to be a bait-and-switch. It allows the Legislature to pass a budget with a simple majority, as Democrats long wanted, with no requirement that it be balanced or on time.

Steinberg and Perez should make amends with the voters by reinstating Prop. 25. If Chiang lacks the authority to determine if the Legislature fulfilled its dictate, the Legislature should identify a party — other than Legislative leaders themselves — in which to invest that authority.

* No longer allow “gut-and-amend” legislation. It is an insidious practice, usually employed during the waning days of the Legislative session, in which lawmakers take an existing measure that’s already been approved by several committees, empty its contents and replace it with completely unrelated content.

That enables lawmakers to win approval of a controversial bill or amendment without public hearings. The way to end the practice, which makes a mockery of transparency in government, is to require that all legislation be made publicly available at least three days before a vote.

* Publicly censure lawmakers that break the law. Both the Senate and Assembly have legislative ethics committees. But both are toothless.

That’s how Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley, remained an Assembly member after pleading no contest last year to shoplifting nearly $2,500 worth of clothing from a Neiman Marcus. She was ordered to stay at least 50 feet from the luxe department store, but she was welcomed back to the Assembly.

Lawmakers, like Hayashi, should be publicly censured by their colleagues when they run commit illegal acts. For not even members of the state Legislature are above the law.

 

33 comments

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  1. The Africanized Swarm of Ted Steele System
    The Africanized Swarm of Ted Steele System 14 December, 2012, 16:55

    If the dems can’t fix this budget they will lose many dems like myself— they have NO excuse at this point….we’ll see.

    Reply this comment
  2. us citizen
    us citizen 14 December, 2012, 18:01

    You should have thought about this before the election.

    Reply this comment
  3. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 14 December, 2012, 18:34

    And come to what conclusion? That the Repubs could fix it? Ha, Ha, Ha!

    Reply this comment
  4. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 14 December, 2012, 19:32

    If the dems can’t fix this budget they will lose many dems like myself— they have NO excuse at this point….we’ll see

    ===

    Another ridiculous prediction

    0-15!

    Reply this comment
  5. loufca
    loufca 15 December, 2012, 08:06

    If the dems can fix the budget? Really? They’ve been screwing with the budget for years and have failed to pass a balanced budget, as required by the state Consitution. They should all be recalled for malfeasance. If you ran a business like they run the state, you’d be fired within days.

    Reply this comment
  6. The Africanized Swarm of Ted Steele System
    The Africanized Swarm of Ted Steele System 15 December, 2012, 09:01

    Poody? Don’t sell yourself short, you’re not 0 for 15 ™!–yet anyway!

    Reply this comment
  7. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 15 December, 2012, 09:49

    Don’t compare apples and oranges, loufca. A business is run for profit and the state is not.

    Reply this comment
  8. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 15 December, 2012, 13:18

    If your rep is a cooks, vote him/her out. That is how you censure a lawbreaker.

    Reply this comment
  9. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 15 December, 2012, 13:18

    Meant to say, “crook”.

    Reply this comment
  10. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 15 December, 2012, 14:17

    “If your rep is a crook, vote him/her out. That is how you censure a lawbreaker.”

    I keep trying, Seesaw…….But the ignorati here in California nullify my efforts – and then some.

    Reply this comment
  11. The Ted Steele System
    The Ted Steele System 15 December, 2012, 14:22

    Jimmydee—- Did you ever think that maybe YOU are the “ignorati” and they are the illuminati?

    just askin…

    Reply this comment
  12. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 15 December, 2012, 16:37

    I did, Teddy.

    It passed.

    Reply this comment
  13. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 15 December, 2012, 17:08

    Poody? Don’t sell yourself short, you’re not 0 for 15 ™!–yet anyway!
    ==
    I was referring to you teddy 🙂

    Reply this comment
  14. The Ted Steele System
    The Ted Steele System 15 December, 2012, 17:50

    I bet lot’s of things pass you Jimmy….

    Reply this comment
  15. The Ted Steele System
    The Ted Steele System 15 December, 2012, 17:50

    Poody…you were?

    It’s cozy up here in your little noodle!

    Hurry— post now!!!!!!!!

    Reply this comment
  16. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 16 December, 2012, 13:36

    YES-I was !

    Reply this comment
  17. The Ted Steele System
    The Ted Steele System 16 December, 2012, 21:57

    but you ARE…

    0 for 14 ™ !

    Pension roll back lawsuits
    prop 30
    lol
    zzzzzzzzzzzz
    Rex Poodle
    Asleep at the switch since 2010!

    Reply this comment
  18. AreaMan
    AreaMan 17 December, 2012, 03:04

    Why should they fix it?

    As far as they are concerned everything is just peachy.

    The Great California Exodus

    All those evil capitalists and white people are leaving and the worker’s paradise is just around the corner.

    Reply this comment
  19. cacheguy
    cacheguy 17 December, 2012, 07:37

    I will never, ever vote for any politician who has ever broken the law….period

    Reply this comment
  20. BobA
    BobA 17 December, 2012, 08:39

    Folks:

    As long as the people here in California keep voting for the same politicians over and over and over again, nothing is going to change.

    Jerry brown is a classic example of the saying the more things change the more they stay the same and there are many more politicians on the public payroll just like him.

    Besides, if you work for the government or are on the state dole and form the majority of the voting populous, why would you what things to change? Life is good when you can vote yourself more of other people’s money.

    The bottom line is that there is now a majority in this state who prefer the status quo of political hacks promising them more of other people’s money and damn the consequences. Something democrats have a real talent for.

    Reply this comment
  21. The Ted Steele System
    The Ted Steele System 17 December, 2012, 09:19

    LOL– I should pay you rent for the 2 year camp out I have enjoyed in your vacant and tiny Poodle skull! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

    oh

    ah

    0 for 14 ™!

    Reply this comment
  22. BobA
    BobA 17 December, 2012, 10:16

    Ted:

    There’s a difference between being a smart feller and a fart smeller. There’s an abundance of evidence that you are the latter. I suggest you lay off the democrat KoolAid before you fry what’s left of your brain.

    Reply this comment
  23. The Ted Steele System
    The Ted Steele System 17 December, 2012, 12:45

    Farts Bob?

    Reply this comment
  24. JLSeagull
    JLSeagull 17 December, 2012, 15:59

    I understand that in their first official act the Democrats are ordering all the restrooms to dispense free condoms so that they can screw the people of the state with out fear of the consequences.

    Reply this comment
  25. BobA
    BobA 17 December, 2012, 17:35

    Ted:

    Yes. Farts. It’s what you become when you stand behind democrats too long. Think of it as like being a midget stuck on a crowded elevator with a bunch of flatulent democrats! Get the picture?

    Reply this comment
  26. The Ted Steele System
    The Ted Steele System 17 December, 2012, 17:41

    Wow Bob——— midgets and farts?

    Reply this comment
  27. BobA
    BobA 17 December, 2012, 17:50

    JLSeagull:

    Right! And right next to the condom dispenser is the Red Bull dispenser that comes with a complimentary pack of Viagra. Screwing people 24/7 takes a lot of energy and staying power.

    Reply this comment
  28. Hondo
    Hondo 17 December, 2012, 18:25

    Kudos to Ted Steele for being somewhat honest and ethical. Him saying that the dems now own this budget and that they had better prove why the dems are better than the Republicans, is an honest statement. Him admitting that he is out the door if they can’t get’re done, is to be saluted.
    I salute you Ted.
    Hondo.

    Reply this comment
  29. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 17 December, 2012, 18:32

    There’s a difference between being a smart feller and a fart smeller.
    ==
    Teddy is so …..back woods!

    Reply this comment
  30. The Ted Steele System
    The Ted Steele System 17 December, 2012, 22:10

    Gracias Hondo– What can anyone say? We have about 16 months to get the budget mess fixed– if we can’t do it ALONE—- it’s time to try Brand X.

    Reply this comment
  31. BobA
    BobA 18 December, 2012, 07:25

    Hondo:

    It’s the broken clock effect. You know, right twice a day? Even fools have their moments of lucidity. Ted often comes across as a fool but I suspect that it’s all an act.

    Reply this comment
  32. The Rt Rev Ted Steele
    The Rt Rev Ted Steele 18 December, 2012, 15:07

    It’s an act BobA— I am real brainy.

    Reply this comment
  33. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 18 December, 2012, 15:30

    Classy commenters!

    Reply this comment

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