SACRAMENTO (AP) — The top Republican in the California Assembly announced a government reform package on Thursday that she said would help make government more accountable and transparent.
Minority Leader Kristin Olsen, who lives in a Modesto suburb, said the bills by GOP lawmakers would overhaul legislative rules from the early 1900s.
She told a Sacramento Press Club luncheon none of the ideas were new, with many similar proposals defeated in recent years.
Republicans face tough odds in passing substantial legislation because Democrats control both chambers of the Legislature.
For the fifth straight year, Olsen is pushing a constitutional amendment overhauling how a bill becomes a law. ACA1 would end the practice of lawmakers approving bills that have been hastily overhauled or changed at the last minute by requiring measures to be printed three days before a vote.
Under the current system, proposals emerge on the final days of the legislative session without a chance for the public to comment or attend hearings, or even for lawmakers to even read the bills.
The amendment, which would have to be approved by voters, would also allow bills to go before committees two weeks after introduction instead of one month. The existing rules result in a sleepy start to each nine-month session.
“There is absolutely no reason for lawmakers now to not be able to get to work much sooner,” Olsen said.
Another constitutional amendment, ACA5, would switch the Legislature to a two-year budget cycle, meaning lawmakers could only propose non-budget related bills on alternate years and spend the other devoted to the budget and holding oversight hearings.
Other proposals introduced by Olsen’s caucus would offer whistleblower protection for legislative staff who report corruption and cap the number of bills each lawmaker can introduce at 20 in a two-year session rather than the current 40.
Also Thursday, Olsen broke from Republican activists and GOP presidential contenders who have blasted a set of rigorous academic standards in schools known as Common Core. Olsen said she is a strong supporter of the education overhaul’s goals of expanding critical thinking and problem solving and blasted myths about Common Core, such as a rumor that it would mandate the collection of children’s DNA.
“I think it certainly can be successful,” Olsen said. “We have to try something different because the status quo that was making us 46th out of 50 in the nation is unacceptable.”