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SKELTON: Three-day waiting period on state bills?

  • Gov. Jerry Brown gives his State of the State address before a joint session of the Legislature at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013. Brown delivered a State of the State address that laid out the legacy-building ideas he will work on during the second part of his term, including K-12 education reform, high-speed rail and the largest upgrade to the state't water-delivery system in decades. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

SACRAMENTO

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Imagine a lawmaker being allowed to read a proposed law before voting on it.

For that matter — and this seems like a stretch — try to envision the public being offered an opportunity to express its view on a bill before legislators vote.

Granted, this is a radical concept — at least during the final secretive, skulking days of a legislative session.

We're talking usually late summer, although legislative sleight-of-hand can occur anytime, including the dead of winter.

"Can you imagine the mischief that would stop?" says state Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana.

Correa is a coauthor of newly introduced, bipartisan legislation that would impose a three-day waiting period on final passage of a bill. Historically, legislators not only have tweaked but twisted bills into unrecognizable shape right up until the final gavel falls adjourning a session, leaving most lawmakers little time to think about what they're voting on.

Lobbyists and legislators meet in crannies of Capitol corridors, patching together laws. Halls are cluttered with smelly, empty pizza boxes discarded by anxious lobbyists. Cold coffee splashes from soggy cups.

Bleary-eyed legislators sag in their chamber seats, waiting for a printed bill to vote on.


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