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Bill would require 3-day wait before state laws passed

SACRAMENTO — Jamming major bills through the Legislature at the last minute with little if any time for review has been an ongoing source of frustration for some lawmakers, especially minority Republicans.

The practice has been used often on budget bills, forcing lawmakers to vote on spending issues with long-term consequences without having the ability to actually read what's in them. That would change under legislation being proposed by two lawmakers.

The identical bills by Democratic Sen. Lois Wolk of Davis and Republican Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen of Modesto would require all legislation to be in print and online 72 hours before it comes to a vote. Both bills would be constitutional amendments and would have to be approved by the voters.

To get on the ballot, SCA10 or ACA4 need a two-thirds vote in the Legislature.

"When bills are introduced at the last minute and voted on minutes or hours later, that's just bad public policy," Olsen said.

Nevertheless, the practice has a long history. Some of the highest-priority bills in recent years have been entirely rewritten within three days of the Legislature's adjournment, using a maneuver bluntly known as gut-and-amend.

They include a bill that provided an accelerated review process for large construction projects, such as a proposed NFL stadium in downtown Los Angeles, and another that delayed collection of sales taxes from online retailers.

"Some things slip through the cracks, mistakes are made, too many laws lead to unexpected consequences," Wolk said.

Yet similar proposals by Republican lawmakers, who are in the minority, have died in recent years. Most of those would have affected budget bills, but the proposals by Wolk and Olsen would cover all legislation unless the governor declared in writing that a particular bill was needed to address a state of emergency.

The three-day rule also was a key provision in Proposition 31, proposed by the nonpartisan government-reform group California Forward. Yet 60 percent of voters opposed the measure in November.

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