Guest Opinion: Vote Yes on Prop 54 to Put Voters Ahead of Special Interests

CHELBERT DAI / AGGIE FILE
CHELBERT DAI / AGGIE FILE

The 2016 presidential election has without question shown that Americans are frustrated with the political process. From the presidential nominees to the lack of transparency and accountability in our state government, voters feel powerless and long for change.

As the Chair of the UC Davis College Republicans chapter and a political science major, I believe government should always be transparent and accessible to the people it represents.

That’s why I’m voting for Proposition 54, the California Legislature Transparency Act, which will be on the Nov. 8 ballot.

In my view, Prop 54 is the most important measure on the ballot. It will do three simple things to wrest power from the special interests that run Sacramento and give it back to the people.

First, Prop 54 will require a bill to be posted online and in print 72 hours prior to a final vote in either legislative house. This common-sense time limit will prevent last-minute backroom deals brokered by special interests. It will give enough time for legislators and their staff to analyze a bill and ensure only well-crafted and thoughtful legislation passes, leading to better public policy.

Second, Prop 54 will require all public legislative committee hearings to be recorded and posted online. Currently, many of these committees are held in small, obscure capitol rooms to avoid public scrutiny and media attention. With little media and public oversight, special interests have unchecked power to whisper into legislators’ ears.

While the Legislature streams many hearings, hundreds of other committee hearings are completely uncovered, hidden behind the doors of the capitol. Not every Californian has the luxury of being only 30 minutes away from Sacramento like we do, so this feature of Prop 54 is key. By posting committee hearings online, faraway constituents that do not have the means or the time to travel to Sacramento can still keep track of legislation that affects them and be part of the political process.

Finally, my favorite thing that Prop 54 will do is allow citizens to record legislative hearings and share them publicly. I was surprised to find out that this practice is currently against the law. It’s crucial that our state government catch up with the times and allow visitors to the capitol to record, tweet and snap videos.  Now, anyone with a phone or camera can “report” what they saw and share it with their followers.

Prop 54 will bring much-needed transparency and accountability to how our legislature operates. By increasing access to the public and catching up with the digital age, Prop 54 ensures all Californians have a fair shot at being included in the political process.

All Californians will benefit from Prop 54. I encourage all of my fellow Aggies to vote

“yes” on Prop 54 on Nov. 8. And, if you are not registered to vote, you can register to vote online at www.RegisterToVote.CA.Gov until Oct. 24.
Nicholas Francois is a third-year political science major, Chair of the UC Davis College Republicans, Capitol Region Vice Chair of the California College Republicans and member of the Delta Lambda Phi Social Fraternity.