PD Editorial: Making sure someone can read the bills

  • State Senator Bill Emmerson, R-Hemet, listens to the debate over the state budget plan at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010. By a 54-1 vote the Assembly approved the main budget measure, but it failed to get the necessary votes needed for passage in the Senate.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Thirty-five years ago, a California state senator named H.L. Richardson wrote a book titled, "What makes you think we read the bills?"

Sometimes, when a bill is read is at least as important as whether it's read.

In Sacramento, legislative rules require 30 days between introduction of a bill and its first committee hearings — ample time to assess its contents. But at the other end of the process — when bills are brought to the floor for approval — there aren't any guarantees.

That needs to change.

And the state budget is a good place to start.

For the second consecutive year, a Southern California legislator has introduced a bill requiring that the entire budget be posted online for three days before a final vote in the Assembly and Senate.

Assemblyman Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga, also wants to apply the rule to the "trailer bills," the accompanying legislation required to implement the state budget.

Three days — 72 hours — isn't an onerous requirement.

Heck, it isn't even an especially high standard for transparency.

Yet Morrell's bill died without even a committee vote last year.

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