The Sacramento Bee today (and Jon’s post here on FR earlier this morning) brought back the wonderful memory of how I spent my Valentine’s Day this year. Instead of taking Sharon to a nice dinner, I was locked in on the Senate floor with 39 of my closest friends fighting to keep get California’s spending in line with revenues. This is not how I would recommend anyone spending their Valentine’s Day and it highlights an ever growing problem in the Legislature – all night sessions that yield poor public policy.
The ink on the page isn’t even dry before we are called by the Pro Tem to vote on legislation that has dramatic implications for the entire state. These policies are negotiated in backroom deals that have no public input and are never debated through the proper legislative process. Members aren’t afforded time to read the bills let alone given enough time for our policy experts to scrutinize the legislation and draft complete and accurate analyses. This unfortunately leads to members casting votes without knowing the full ramifications of the legislation.
No one makes proper decisions when they are exhausted and sleep deprived. These marathon sessions wear down even the most resolute lawmaker and unfortunately make the weak even weaker.
As we head into another challenging budget cycle, legislative leadership should commit to an open and transparent process, where all bills are in print for everyone to see and public comment and scrutiny is encouraged. The people of California deserve to know what their elected body is doing and elected officials should be afforded the time to know exactly what they are voting about.