Tomorrow the State Assembly returns after a 50-day hiatus. On the day we left, I spoke about the Legislature’s important role managing the challenges ahead of us.
Assembly’s leadership, it turns out, had a different role in mind: None.
collapse of California government into one-man rule has been as much an
abdication of responsibility by the Legislature as an assumption of power by
the Governor. The Legislature sat on the sidelines as “the executive has seized
complete control over state government,” wrote George Skelton of the LA Times.
This only emboldened Governor Newsom,
who falsely belittled the Legislature as the “second of three
branches” and has spent several times more money than we authorized –
including a secret $1 billion contract with China’s disreputable BYD company.
As millions of Californians became
accustomed to Zoom, the Legislature offered no forum for deliberation or public
engagement. Joe Matthews, Editor at Zocalo Public Square, wrote that
“legislators are doing less than California schoolchildren, who are being made
to do their lessons remotely.”
Even as we return, each committee
will have a single hearing, and floor sessions are cancelled indefinitely. This
makes it impossible to adequately represent my half million constituents.
We could make up lost time by working
through our usual fall recess, but there’s no appetite for that. Even as some
suggest an early start to the next school year, it’s apparently not in the
cards for the Legislature to rearrange its own schedule.
Instead, the legislative calendar is
being truncated in the worst possible way: committee chairmen are unilaterally
throwing out hundreds of bills without a hearing, without a vote, without
explanation. There is no standard for which bills get heard. As one would
expect, though, special interests are having no trouble with their priorities.
In short, the Legislature is putting
its typical undemocratic practices on steroids.
I’ll be fighting to bring checks and balances back to our Capitol. As a
start, I’m calling for a process of reviewing which of the Governor’s more than
35 executive orders are properly within the scope of his emergency powers. The
era of one-person government is over.