Capitol Alert

Republicans kill California bill giving legislative leaders more campaign cash

Sen. Pat Bates asks why her bills won’t be heard

During an Assembly Transportation Committee hearing Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018, Committee Chairman Jim Frazier explained how Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon told him to pull a couple bills sponsored by Sen. Pat Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, from being heard.
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During an Assembly Transportation Committee hearing Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018, Committee Chairman Jim Frazier explained how Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon told him to pull a couple bills sponsored by Sen. Pat Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, from being heard.

A controversial bill that would allow special interest groups to give more campaign money to California legislative leaders is likely dead for the year.

Assembly Bill 84 would allow top Democratic and Republican leaders at the Capitol to raise and spend more on legislative races. It requires a two-thirds vote, which means at least one Republican must join Democrats in the Senate.

But GOP leaders sent a one-sentence letter to Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, on Friday announcing their opposition.

“After careful review of Assembly Bill 84, the Senate Republican Caucus opposes the advancement of the bill this year,” the letter says.

Senate Minority Leader Patricia Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, said she opposes Assembly Bill 84 because it doesn’t place strong restrictions on how leaders could use the money. A recent Senate floor analysis shows no groups supporting the bill and 64 groups opposed, including the California Democratic Party.

Campaign finance watchdogs said the bill, while it requires more disclosure of campaign activity, also increases the amounts legislative leaders can raise. Critics worry the bill would open the floodgates for more money to enter the political system, as individual contribution limits would jump from $4,400 to $36,500.

In addition, Bates accused Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, of holding two of her bills hostage in an effort to broker a deal to get Republicans on board with the proposal.

In an Assembly transportation committee hearing on Thursday, Chairman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, told Bates that Rendon requested the two bills be pulled. One bill would give an additional 90 days on all DMV license renewals set to expire this year. Another resolution would designate a portion of Interstate 5 in Southern California to commemorate a deceased firefighter.

“There’s no rational policy reason that they should not have been heard,” Bates said. “I assume there’s a political reason for that. I think that it’s unacceptable to put the people of California hostage.”

Frazier told Bates during Thursday’s committee hearing that her bills “have been pulled at the request of the speaker.” After a member of the committee, Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, interjected to express frustration that the firefighter resolution would not be discussed, Frazier replied, “As I mentioned, the Speaker…requested the bills be pulled.”

Rendon’s office said it mistakenly asked Frazier to hold both of Bates’ proposals. while it only meant to hold the DMV bill to “work on the policy.”

“The idea that we’re holding anything hostage is just not accurate,” said Kevin Liao, spokesman for Rendon.

Liao added Rendon has every intention of allowing Bates’ DMV bill to move forward for a hearing next week.

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