Capitol Alert

Does Proposition 54 cover resolutions? California Legislature says no

It didn’t take long for the first disagreement over Proposition 54.

Mere hours into the new Legislative session Monday, shortly after members of the Senate and Assembly were sworn in, both houses took up resolutions calling for Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration law and urging President-elect Donald Trump not to pursue mass deportations of undocumented immigrants.

Republicans were not happy. They accused the Democratic leadership of spoiling a celebratory day with a “hyperpartisan move” designed to make them look bad – one that also violated the spirit of a new transparency law.

In November, California voters approved Proposition 54, a constitutional amendment requiring the Legislature to make bills available in print and online for 72 hours before a final vote in both houses.

“You know, this resolution that came in today was put across the floor this morning,” objected Sen. Joel Anderson, R-Alpine. “We didn’t have time to sit down and talk across party lines and say, ‘Look, let’s change the language a little bit so we all can support it.’”

Democrats were not convinced and passed the resolutions anyway. New Assembly rules adopted Monday state that “bills” does not include resolutions or constitutional amendments because those do not become law. The Senate is taking the same approach, though it did not add similar language to its house rules.

Not everyone agrees with that interpretation.

“It is unfortunate that they would choose to pass their own rules and a resolution without giving their members and the public 72 hours to think about it,” Charles Munger Jr., the Republican megadonor behind Proposition 54, told Capital Public Radio in an interview Monday.

Munger’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment on whether he planned a legal challenges over the definition of “bills.”

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff