72-hours in print rule stalls key bills in the final days

By Michael Shaw

Capitol Update, Sept. 22, 2017 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Last November, voters adopted a constitutional amendment providing greater transparency in the legislative process by requiring that all bills be in print for 72 hours prior to a final vote. In the first year of this new requirement, legislators and lobbyists had to adjust knowing that the point at which a bill would be “cooked” comes earlier than anyone was accustomed to in the past.

Prior to this game changing shift, a “normal” year would see the most controversial and complicated issues be the subject of negotiations all the way until the end of session with amendments, in some cases, being drafted on the floor and often in the dead of night. With that no longer being an option, legislators were left with few options other than to vote for or against a bill as it was set by Tuesday night of the final week. In a number of cases, unable to gather enough support, legislators chose not to bring their bills up for a vote this year and passed on it until 2018.

One bill where this new wrinkle in the legislative process played out was SB 100 by Senate pro Tem Kevin de León that sought to establish a 100 percent renewable energy mandate in California. CMTA and other business groups had long opposed SB 100 and were actively lobbying legislators to stall the bill. In the last week, some organized labor groups that had previously supported the bill changed sides and began opposing the bill. This is where the 72-hour rule comes into play.

With a growing opposition to a bill, an author would typically work to amend the bill to address enough concerns to remove some or all of the major opponents. However, with no ability to amend SB 100 beyond Tuesday night, Senate pro Tem de León was left working with the bill in print. Continued lobbying by CMTA and numerous opponents held the bill off until session gaveled down in the wee hours of Friday night (also known as very early Saturday morning).

2017 was the first year of a two-year legislative session, so all the bills that failed to pass this year will be eligible to come back up in January 2018 when the legislature returns. SB 100 and other CMTA-tracked bills that fell victim in whole or in part to the 72-hour in print rule will continue to be subject to the watchful eyes of your CMTA lobbying team. And we expect to see a host of new bills that would affect manufacturers to come in 2018.

Please feel free to reach out to your CMTA lobbyists if you have questions regarding legislative matters or are interested in participating in a policy committee on a subject important to your company.

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