Dying Days of California Legislature, Best and Worst of Government

Want to make a crowded Capitol hallway nervous? Turn on a video camera. 
That's what we did in Sacramento over the last days of the California legislative session. We wanted to see what the dying days were like, and we found out: It's ugly. We watched bills appear, disappear or simply stall, lawmakers meeting with lobbyists, and lobbyists wanting to fight each other. We saw votes changing after the fact, hearings suddenly scheduled, proposed laws rushed with little discussion and lobbyists crowding the hallways trying to protect their investments. But don't worry, with 1,760 registered lobbyists, and employers spending nearly $150 million this year alone on lobbying, every lobbyist is a winner. 
Meanwhile, despite the tight government deadline, one lawmaker had the time to complain about our videotaping in a public hallway, and we got a visit from the Capitol staff. Apparently, there are rules about documenting what our public officials are doing, and transparency doesn't lead that list. I don't know if they'll allow us back next year, but at least this year, we'll be reviewing our video and posting the best stuff. 
As for actual legislation, proposals to reduce the overprescribing of foster youths,protect consumers from out of health network charges and reform civil forfeiture lawsthat seemed to have enough support to pass were watered down or foundered in these last few weeks. Climate change legislation was at the forefront. 

Months of hearings and nonstop media attention were focused on bold climate change proposals pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown and championed by Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León. SB 350 targeted a 50 percent reduction in the use of petroleum by 2030, as well as creating more renewable energy and more energy efficient buildings. Some lawmakers and lobbyists made outrageous demands to fund other priorities and gut a state agency with power to curb air pollution in exchange for support. The sponsors refused the bargain, and the climate change legislation passed, but unfortunately without the petroleum cut.  

A climate change bill that was eventually killed, SB 32, by Sen. Fran Pavely, would have codified California's commitment to reducing emissions by 2050 to 80% of 1990 levels. The final vote in the Assembly was 30 Yes to 33 No. Initially, 21 Assembly members didn't even post a vote. They essentially helped killed the bill without taking a stand. Once the bill was declared dead, six lawmakers who didn't vote added a vote.
Try explaining that in a government ethics class.

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