Sacramento – Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (R-Yucaipa) issued the following statement regarding the vote to suspend the 30-day in print rule:
“On Monday, February 22, the Senate voted to suspend one single portion of California’s Constitution to waive the 30-day waiting period for bills to be amended or have votes taken. No other parts of the Constitution have been waived or altered during the 2021-2022 Session and this waiver will only be in effect for year 2021. This waiver will not apply to any other year or session and is being brought up now only because of the pandemic, our limited meeting room capacity to meet in the Senate, and the safety protocols that have to take place in order to do the people’s work. The vote was taken in accordance with the rules set aside in the Constitution that allow for such an action to be taken in extraordinary circumstances.
I do not take the waiving of our Constitution lightly. The Constitution is important to me and I value the structure that our state has set up in order to ensure the transparency and efficiency of our government. The portions of our Constitution that require bills to be in-print for 72 hours before a final vote is still in place and I will not support any efforts to waive that provision, if it is brought up.
Allowing bills to be amended into bills with substantive language is good for transparency, as the public, the senators and their staff are able to read the bills sooner. This allows for stakeholders to have enough time to analyze the impact of amended language.
By referring bills to committees sooner, we avoid the rush of referrals later on. This spreads out committee hearings during a longer period of time and provides the public with more opportunities to testify or participate in committee hearings on bills of interest.
If all bills are heard in April, the agendas may be too long to accommodate proper debate and testimony from stakeholders and the public. We have already seen in the Senate from hearings in January and February of this year that we have had to restrict debate in order to make sure that hearings end at specific times, so that the spaces can be properly cleaned before the next hearing.
It also enables the Rules Committee to refer the bills to the policy committees sooner so those hearing agendas can be scheduled, giving stakeholders and the public more time to prepare their input and testimony.
Due to the Executive Powers the Governor has been exercising over the past year, it is imperative that the Legislature be more engaged in the legislative process.”
Article IV, Section 8 (a) of the CA Constitution states: “At regular sessions no bill other than the budget bill may be heard or acted on by committee or either house until the 31st day after the bill is introduced unless the house dispenses with this requirement by rollcall vote entered in the journal, three fourths of the membership concurring.”
The President Pro Tempore asked the Senate to suspend this provision of the State Constitution. By allowing bills that have not yet been in-print for 30 days to be amended and/or have votes taken, it makes additional bills eligible for committee hearings during the weeks of March 8, 15 and 22 before heading into spring recess between March 25-April 5. This will allow for the Senate to operate more efficiently in the midst of the pandemic. Because of the pandemic, the Senate is only able to use the largest hearing rooms in order to accommodate social distancing requirements. This means that hearings can only occur in the Senate Chamber and Room 4203 between March 8 - April 29. This will allow for more bills to have hearings in March instead of rushing bill testimony in April.
The last day to introduce bills was February 19. According to the Senate Daily File, SBs 628 - 809 would not have been eligible for amendments or committee votes until March 24. Hearings begin on March 8. These bills will still have to go through all relevant policy and fiscal committees in the legislature. Now that the constitution has been suspended, those bills are eligible sooner for amendments. This will allow for spot bills that have nonsubstantive changes to be amended sooner so that there can be more public review before testimony and votes are taken in committee.