The State Assembly is recessing again. After the 7-week COVID Recess, it’s moved ahead with a 3-week Summer Recess.
Rather than work through summer, the Legislature used a shortened calendar as an excuse to put its usual undemocratic practices on steroids. Committee Chairmen threw out hundreds of bills without explanation. Not a single budget item was voted on. Enormous discretion was left to the Governor.
Legislators did meet the June 15 Budget Deadline, but only because they have to in order to keep getting paid. The Assembly simply passed a “placeholder” budget and then left town and let Gov. Newsom make the real decisions in private meetings with leadership and interest groups.
It was, without question, the most secretive budget in modern California history. Each year we’ve taken another step down the ladder of transparency. This year we fell off it altogether.
In a major embarrassment, the recessing Assembly also missed the deadline to qualify several ballot measures. So it’s had to conjure up an additional “special” election to appear on the November ballot. You’ll now be voting in two elections on November 3.
Meanwhile, Gov. Newsom is issuing sweeping orders again. The Assembly left town just in time to deny itself any role in this new phase of executive action.
Rather than make itself irrelevant, the Assembly could move forward my Resolution, ACR 196, to terminate the Governor’s emergency powers. This is real leverage to demand more balance between our two branches.
But ACR 196 remains moribund in the Rules Committee.
Make no mistake, the collapse of California government into one-man rule isn’t just an assumption of power by the Governor. It’s also an abdication of responsibility by the Legislature.
By the way: the Legislature still plans to recess the last four months of the year.