Monday, September 1, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

State Legislature bends the rules

walters column sig

By
From page A9 | January 27, 2013 |

When members of the California Legislature pass legislation, they are, in effect, writing rules they expect everyone to obey.

It’s particularly strange, therefore, that legislators skirt, or even ignore, the rules they are supposed to follow.

Take, for example, what happened during the long Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

Under the state Constitution, legislators get $142 a day in tax-free living expenses on top of their salaries, as long as they are not out of session for more than three consecutive days – hence, the legislative schedule of being in Sacramento from Monday to Thursday.

Monday holidays interfere with that self-serving schedule. The Legislature’s time-dishonored solution is to convene briefly on Friday mornings, then flee and return the following Tuesday for another brief “per-diem session,” as it’s known.

It is, simply, bending the rules for personal gain.

And then there are the procedural rules, which supposedly govern the flow of legislation through the Capitol. But routinely, when those rules – having bills in print for public inspection, for example – interfere with what the majority party wants to do, they are waived, thus allowing major measures to be rushed through before any serious opposition can coalesce.

Now that Democrats have two-thirds supermajorities in both legislative houses, waiving procedural rules becomes even easier, so we should expect a greater flood of written-in-secret bills this summer.

Skirting transparency got easier two years ago when voters eliminated the two-thirds-vote requirement for budgets by passing a ballot measure that also applied the lower-vote margin to so-called trailer bills tied to the budget.

Yours truly and other jaundiced Capitol observers suggested that the trailer-bill provision in Proposition 25 could be misused to bypass procedural safeguards, and that’s exactly what happened. The Legislature has routinely placed token $1,000 appropriations in measures that had nothing to do with the budget, qualifying them as trailer bills.

Legislators used that subterfuge last year for a bill to bump Proposition 30, a tax increase backed by Gov. Jerry Brown and other Democrats, to the top of the ballot, thus enhancing its chances of passage.

It was a trick, and apparently an effective one, since Proposition 30 passed. But last week, the 3rd District Court of Appeal spanked the Legislature for using a “spot bill” – a shell without any legislative content – to suddenly enact a major change in election law on the fiction that it was connected to the budget.

Such a ruse “sets up a shell game,” the court declared.

You could say that about a lot of ways in which the Legislature bends rules while expecting the rest of us to follow them.

Dan Walters is a columnist for the Sacramento Bee. Reach him at dwalters@sacbee.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • VallejoanJanuary 27, 2013 - 10:41 am

    So which case was this? Or do we have to skim through every opinion that was posted by the 3rd last week?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
Highway 12 project nears completion

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 3 Comments | Gallery

‘Snail mail’ still kinda cool

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

 
Senior center schedules discussion on senior travel

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Local government schedule meetings

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
 
Car club raises funds, supplies for SPCA

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3

 
Democrats plan candidates meet, greet

By Glen Faison | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

 
Stand Up 2 Cancer Viewing party set in Vacaville

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Goodwill opens Outlet Store in Fairfield

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A7, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Premier post details of new lease

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A7

 
Il Fiorello to host jazz event

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

 
New doctors join NorthBay

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A7

Small earthquakes shake Solano

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

 
.

Opinion

Compromise on Cordelia Road rail crossing costs

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

 
Justice for all

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 7 Comments

Good job, Susan Winlow

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
Editorial Cartoon: Sept. 1, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Whopper of a tax dodge for Burger King

By Mike Kirchubel | From Page: A8, 26 Comments

 
Is social media enlarging or stifling democracy?

By Cynthia M. Allen | From Page: A8

.

Living

Community Calendar: Sept. 1, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Sept. 1, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Sept. 1, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

 
Is my husband right when he says men aren’t made for monogamy?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

 
Horoscopes: Sept. 2, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A5

 
5 takeaways from a punch-less summer box office

By Jake Coyle | From Page: A11

Joan Rivers’ daughter: I’m keeping fingers crossed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

.

Sports

Wozniacki outlasts Sharapova, in US Open quarters

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Falcons looking to be defensive

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Source: 49ers OL Boone agrees to new 2-yr deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

49er Ray McDonald accused of domestic violence

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Kahne holds off Kenseth to win Atlanta shootout

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

FC Kansas City wins NWSL title over Seattle, 2-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Raiders claim DE Mayowa off waivers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Jensen waived after Jaguars awarded TE Shuler

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Otto wins Italian Open; Gallacher comes up short

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Weather for Monday, Sept. 1, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Henley takes a 1-shot lead at Deutsche Bank

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Dunn dealt to A’s, could be his last shot playoffs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Fred Couples wins Champions Tour event

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

A’s frustrated after 8-1 loss caps sweep by Angels

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Ernst wins LPGA’s Portland Classic in playoff

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Giants power past Brewers 15-5 for 3-game sweep

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Down at half, US beats Turkey in basketball worlds

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Source: Chiefs’ Smith agrees to 4-yr extension

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Tony Stewart’s return to race track ends early

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Sam clears waivers, meets with Fisher

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
This date in sports history for Monday, Sept. 1, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Laurie Danielson Bailey

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Hazel Gertrude Wamsley

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Jerry Lee Trammell

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 6 Comments

 
.

Comics

Get Fuzzy Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Dilbert Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Pickles Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Wizard of Id Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4, 1 Comment

 
Sally Forth Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

For Better or Worse Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baby Blues Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Peanuts Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Rose is Rose Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baldo Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
B.C. Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Word Sleuth Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sudoku Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Crossword Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Cryptoquote Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Wizard of Id Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
For Better or Worse Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sally Forth Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Peanuts Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Blondie Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Rose is Rose Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Get Fuzzy Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
B.C. Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baldo Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Garfield Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Frank and Ernest Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Zits Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Dilbert Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Crossword Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Cryptoquote Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Sudoku Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Bridge Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Word Sleuth Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7