Monday, October 17, 2011

Gut and Amend: This is What Democracy Looks Like!

File this under ". . . and the last pony finally crosses the finish line": it's finally occurred to the Sacramento Bee that there's something wrong with the California Legislature's "gut and amend" practices. Better late than never.

"Gut and amend," of course, refers to the Legislature's practice of taking shelved bills, stripping out their language, and inserting new language at the eleventh hour. The most notable example of this in the most recent session, of course, was SB 202: in order to slip a gift to organized labor onto Jerry Brown's desk with little public scrutiny, Berkeley Democrat Loni Hancock deleted a proposal about filing fees for ballot initiatives and replaced it with a plan to move all ballot initiatives to November elections. Another bill created by this process was SB 292, which will exempt crony capitalists in Los Angeles from worrying about CEQA. The last session featured 22 such bills, all but three of which were signed by the Governor.

We've written a bit about the contempt that Sacramento clearly has for the public (see here and here), so nothing about gut and amend is terribly surprising to us. Still, there's really no positive spin that one can put on it: lawmakers are clearly using this procedural loophole for no other reason than to push bills through before the public has a chance to read a lot about them. Even if you're a believer in the idea of good government, you should find this alarming. How can you be sure that your elected representatives are doing your bidding if they're explicitly trying to hide their actions from your attention?


  1. randianOct 18, 2011 08:15 PM
    Oregon's Senate did a similar gut & amend maneuver earlier this year to block a concealed-carry reciprocity bill that had been passed by their House.