Legislators Need Time to Review Bills — Not Pass Them to See What’s in Them

Photo Courtesy of DB's travels, Flickr.

Photo Courtesy of DB’s travels, Flickr.

Can you imagine only having only a few hours to review important work documents and then be forced make snap decisions that are critical to the future of your business?  It might be awarding a contract, reviewing financial documents or preparing a proposal.  Sound crazy?  Unfortunately more times than not, this is the way the legislature works in California.  Senate Constitutional Amendment (SCA) 10, authored by Senator Lois Wolk, would change that.

SCA 10 would requires all legislation to be  in print for at least seventy-two hours before legislators are able to act on it, giving them more sufficient time to review the finer details and nuances of the bill. Many times, legislators pass bills that they have not even read, which can lead to laws that are ineffective and even economically harmful to citizens and small businesses in California.  This seventy-two hour waiting period also gives those Californians who are affected by the bill time to contact their representatives to discuss their concerns.

SCA 10 also allows committees to hold hearings on bills fifteen days after they are introduced, rather than waiting thirty days, though a bill still could not pass out of the first legislative house before thirty days has elapsed. We live in an age of accessible information, and the century-old requirement that a bill can’t be heard for thirty days only ensures that major changes will be made to it much later in the process. After all, this provision was added to the constitution when information was disseminated by horseback and carriage. SCA 10’s changes would help to speed up the process at the beginning, but slow it down at the end when final votes are critical.

Our elected leaders have a responsibility to create laws in a responsible manner.  That should include allowing them a sufficient period of time within which to review each bill before  placing a vote, especially since such legislation could potentially affect 38 million people and over 3.6 million small businesses – and millions of jobs – in the state of California.  SCA 10 allows legislators an opportunity to become better acquainted with – and ask important questions — about proposed legislation, which will hopefully in turn lead to more effective, efficient state policy.

Small businesses and all Californians deserve responsible and effective legislation.  The best way for that to happen is for the process to be a deliberate and thoughtful one.  That can’t happen if legislators don’t have enough time to read what they are voting on.  It’s high time that everyone get a little room to breathe and reflect on what they are doing.  We encourage every legislator in the Capitol – indeed, each one an author of legislation that they believe deserves due process —   to do what’s right as responsible policy makers and support SCA 10.

(John Kabateck is the California Executive Director for the National Federation of Independent Business. Originally posted on Fox and Hounds.)


  1. Never happen !!! The Democrat controlled, Tax and Spend State Government loves that vote now, read it later mandate as demonstrated by the Democrats in federal government…………They can’t even give the tax payers the curtesy, of reading bills before voting for them.

  2. Heresy – such prior notice would literally Gut and Amend – the ability to Gut & Amend, by a legislative body in itself truly not fit to pass gas.

  3. Remember Pelosi, we have to pass “OBUMACARE” to see whats in it. We we know now “OBUMACARE” is nothing more than a huge tax increase for most Americans and a disaster for the elderly!! pysco is “RIGHT”!!!

  4. Hows about submitting far fewer bills? I betcha that would also work.Every Tom,Dick and Harry legislator has to attempt to submit a handful of loony bills so he or she will have something to crow about to their constituents when they go home on break. ENOUGH ALREADY!!

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