SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Republican lawmakers are calling on the California Assembly to vote again on 89 bills they say were passed in violation of new transparency rules and on Tuesday announced new legislation to address the issue.
In November, voters passed Proposition 54, requiring bills to be in print and available to the public 72 hours before lawmakers take a final vote. Democratic Assembly leaders have interpreted the rules to apply only to the final vote to pass a bill out of the second chamber and send the bill to the governor for approval.
That interpretation violates the will of voters, Republicans say. They argue the new law applies to all bills passing out of the Assembly even if they still require a Senate vote.
The 89 bills passed two weeks ago didn’t meet the threshold because they were amended less than three days before lawmakers voted to send them to the Senate, Republicans say.
The bills in question include provisions to change the teacher tenure process and to help shield workers and college students from federal immigration enforcement raids. They were passed earlier this month ahead of the so-called “house of origin” deadline, when bills must clear the chamber where they originated.
“All of that legislation is now under a legal cloud,” said Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, a Republican from Rocklin. Kiley and fellow Republican Assemblyman Travis Allen of Huntington Beach stalled Assembly proceedings several times while the bills were debated to protest what they called an unconstitutional overreach by Democrats.
Democrats say their interpretation is legal.
“Assembly rules are consistent with the Constitution in defining the term ‘final form,'” Assembly Clerk Dotson Wilson said in a statement, referencing the term used in Proposition 54. “‘Final form’ is the version of the bill that is voted on by both Houses of the Legislature before the bill is sent to the Governor, therefore it does not apply to bills still in the house of origin.”
Charles Munger Jr., who donated more than $10 million to support Proposition 54, said he hopes the Assembly will redo its votes on the bills.
“We’d like to work with them to get this done without litigation,” he said, but added that he and other supporters of the initiative expected they would need to go to court. “Like any advocate, you have to be ready to go to court to defend what you’re doing. So we’re ready.”
Assembly Republicans don’t have plans to file a lawsuit on the bills, Kiley said.
Backers of Proposition 54 say the state Senate has abided by the new law so far.