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Ray Haynes

Mr. Haynes is an Assembly member representing Riverside and Temecula. He serves on the Appropriations and Budget Committees. [go to Assembly Member Haynes website at California Assembly][go to Haynes index]

Process or Procrastination?
Repealing SB60 - making up the Assembly rules as they go along...
[Ray Haynes] 11/25/03

If you followed the end of the Legislative Session in September, you would have seen the most unbelievable abuse of the legislative process. The Legislature has set up rules that require committee hearings, notice, and specific actions before a bill can be brought on the floor. Unfortunately, those rules can be waived with 41 votes, and, since the Democrats have 48 votes, they can introduce a bill, waive the rules, and take up a bill without a hearing in a committee, and vote on it on the floor, if they want. In September, they did this with over 400 bills. On issues from new fees, new regulations, new intrusions into your life, the Legislature completely gutted the contents of a bill, amended in new language, took the bill up and voted bills out of the Legislature with no hearing, no testimony, no input from the public, and, in many cases, no input from anyone but the people who wanted the bill. Four hundred times the Legislature completely changed a bill without a hearing; 400 times they passed it off to the Governor, and, in many cases, the Governor signed the bill. This is a complete violation of the process, and, many times, has resulted in bills that have serious, negative consequences, but, because the bills were rushed through, no one stopped to fully consider those consequences.

One bill that was fully vetted, thoroughly debated, and, quite frankly, argued completely was SB 60, the bill that granted driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. The bill went through two Senate Committees, two Assembly Committees, was argued for over three hours on the Assembly Floor, discussed in the media and in the recall. In fact, many have argued that the bill cost Gray Davis his job as Governor. Governor Schwarzenegger promised he would repeal the law, and this week, he called a special session to accomplish the task.

AB1xxx was introduced to repeal that law. It was a simple bill, two pages long, only a few sentences—Repeal SB 60, it said. The issues well known, the matter well debated; the rules easy to waive. All the Democrats had to do was vote the bill off the floor, and it would be on the Governor’s desk tomorrow.

The Democrats said NO—we need to send the bill through the process. You Republicans always want us to follow the process. We heard you, so now we’re going to respect our own rules. Yeah, right.

SB 60 is currently the subject of a referendum, with the signatures due the first week of December. The Democrats keep telling people they want to repeal the bill, but they have to follow the process. In fact, I believe the Democrats are only cooperating at all because they fear that if they don’t, the referendum will qualify and pass on the March ballot—repealing the law outright and making the legislature virtually irrelevant. By claiming to be willing to repeal the law, but stalling the process into December, they can try to deflate the referendum momentum and keep it off the ballot. If it appears the referendum will not qualify, I predict that the Democrats will not repeal SB 60—if it does qualify, they will.

When the Democrats want a bill to pass, they will waive every rule, skirt every constitutional requirement, and change all the procedures to get a vote. If they want a bill to die, they just follow the rules. In this case the Democrats cried foul when the Republicans asked them to waive the rules to get a vote on this important issue. Their protests fell on deaf ears. The people of this state know when they are being sandbagged, and the Democrats are sandbagging them on the repeal of SB 60 right now.

Cute—but not very original. It is a classic legislative maneuver. Hopefully, this new Governor will see through their charade, and push to finish the referendum. Until then, it is just business as usual in Sacramento. Clearly the revolution that started with the successful recall in October is still being fought in the State Capitol, and just as clearly, we may again need the direct voice of the people to win it.


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