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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
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State of California
Prop. 54 — Changes to the Legislative Process Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute - Majority Approval Required

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Election Results


8,607,266 votes yes (65.4%)

4,559,903 votes no (34.6%)

100% of precincts reporting (24,847/24,847).

This proposition prohibits the Legislature from passing any bill unless published on the Internet for 72 hours before a vote; requires the Legislature to record its proceedings and post them on the Internet; and it authorizes the use of recordings.

What is this proposal?

Easy Voter Guide — Summary for new and busy voters

Information provided by The League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

The way it is now

State laws are introduced as “bills” and voted on in the state Legislature. Lawmakers debate and make changes to a bill. This process normally takes several days or weeks but sometimes there are sudden changes to a bill right before a vote. Many bills are available online. But, sometimes the bill will not be posted for the public to see until close to the time that lawmakers vote on it. Many, but not all, public meetings of the Legislature are recorded and posted online.



What if it passes?

The Legislature would be required to put bills in print and post them online at least 72 hours before voting on them. All public meetings of the Legislature would be recorded and posted online within 24 hours. Any person would also be allowed to record public meetings of the Legislature. Prop 54 would put these changes into the California Constitution. 

Budget effect

There would be a one-time cost of $1 million to $2 million to put Prop 54 into effect. Recording public meetings and posting them online would cost the state around $1 million each year. 

People FOR say

  • Posting bills and recordings of the Legislature online would make it easier for California residents to see what lawmakers are doing.
  • Prop 54 would give the public and lawmakers time to read new laws before they are passed.

People AGAINST say

  • Prop 54 would make it harder for the Legislature to pass bills. Any little change to a bill would require lawmakers to wait 72 hours before voting on it. 
  • Prop 54 would give people and groups in positions of power extra time to try and block or change a bill before it can be voted on.

Pros & Cons — Unbiased explanation with arguments for and against

Information provided by The League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

The Question

Should all bills before the Legislature be printed in their final form and posted online 72 hours before being voted on, and should all public meetings of the Legislature be videotaped and posted online within 24 hours? 

The Situation

Legislative rules govern the process by which bills become laws. Legislators discuss bills in committee hearings and other meetings and make changes to bills based on these discussions, a process that usually takes place over days, weeks, or months. However, bills can also be drastically changed at the last minute, including adding hundreds of pages of new text. In a procedure known as “gut and amend,” every word of a bill may be replaced at the last minute with new language, which can even be on a totally different subject. When this happens, the public cannot read the bill in its entirety before it is passed into law, and many legislators cannot read the bill in its final form before voting on it. Additionally, recordings of the Legislature’s public proceedings are not always made, so meetings and discussions about a bill can take place unobserved by the public or the press, without any record of what was said.

The Proposal

The California Constitution and legislative rules would be amended to:

  • Require that every bill in its final form be made available to legislators and published on the Internet at least 72 hours before the vote, except in cases of emergency.                                                          
  • Require the Legislature to make audiovisual recordings of all its public meetings, and ensure that these recordings are available on the Internet for viewing within 24 hours.                                                             
  • Allow anyone to record public legislative meetings.                                                               
  • Allow recordings of public legislative meetings to be used for any legitimate purpose.


Fiscal effect

Likely one-time costs of $1 million to $2 million to buy cameras and other equipment, and annual costs of about $1 million for more staff and online storage for the videos. These costs would be less than one percent of the Legislature’s budget for its own operations.

Supporters say

Proposition 54 will:

  • give the public and their elected officials time to read and express their opinions on legislation before it is enacted into law.                   
  • put an end to the practice of “gut and amend.”                                                             
  • ensure that all open meetings of the Legislature are recorded, and posted online so the public can view them.


Opponents say

Proposition 54 will:

  • introduce unnecessary, burdensome and time-consuming restrictions on the way laws are written.                                                            
  • make small technical but needed changes in bills introduced at the end of Legislative sessions more difficult to accommodate.                
  • give lobbyists and special interests extra time to lobby and launch campaigns to attack hard-fought bipartisan compromises.  


Measure Details — Official information about this measure

YES vote means

Any bill (including changes to the bill) would have to be made available to legislators and posted on the Internet for at least 72 hours before the Legislature could pass it. The Legislature would have to ensure that its public meetings are recorded and make videos of those meetings available on the Internet.

NO vote means

Rules and duties of the Legislature would not change.


Attorney General of California

  • Prohibits Legislature from passing any bill unless it has been in print and published on the Internet for at least 72 hours before the vote, except in cases of public emergency. 
  • Requires the Legislature to make audiovisual recordings of all its proceedings, except closed session proceedings, and post them on the Internet.
  • Authorizes any person to record legislative proceedings by audio or video means, except closed session proceedings.
  • Allows recordings of legislative proceedings to be used for any legitimate purpose, without payment of any fee to the State.


  • One-time costs of $1 million to $2 million and ongoing costs of about $1 million annually to record legislative meetings and make videos of those meetings available on the Internet.


Legislative Analyst's Office

State Legislature Makes Laws. The California Legislature has two houses: the Senate and the Assembly. Legislative rules guide the process by which bills become laws. In this process, legislators discuss bills in committee hearings and other settings. They often change bills based on these discussions. Typically, legislators take several days to consider these changes before they vote on whether to pass the bill. Sometimes, however, legislators take less time to consider these changes.

Legislature’s Public Meetings. The State Constitution requires meetings of the Legislature and its committees to be open to the public, with some exceptions (such as meetings to discuss security at the State Capitol). Live videos of most, but not all, of these meetings are available on the Internet. The Legislature keeps an archive of many of these videos for several years. The Legislature does not charge fees for the use of these videos. The Legislature spends around $1 million each year on recording, posting, and storing these videos. Under current state statute, recordings of Assembly meetings cannot be used for political or commercial purposes.

Legislature’s Budget. The Constitution limits how much the Legislature can spend on its own operations. This limit increases with growth in California’s population and economy. This year, the Legislature’s budget is about $300 million—less than 1 percent of total spending from the General Fund (the state’s main operating account).

Impartial analysis / Proposal

Legislative Analyst's Office

Proposition 54 amends the Constitution to change the rules and duties of the Legislature. Figure 1 summarizes the proposition’s key changes. The Legislature’s costs to comply with these requirements would be counted within the Legislature’s annual spending limit. 

Figure 1

Changes How State Legislature Makes Laws. If Proposition 54 passes, a bill (including changes to that bill) would have to be made available to legislators and posted on the Internet for at least 72 hours before the Legislature could pass it. In an emergency, like a natural disaster, the Legislature could pass bills faster. This could only happen, however, if the Governor declares a state of emergency and two-thirds of the house considering the bill votes to pass the bill faster.

Changes Rules of Legislature’s Public Meetings. If Proposition 54 passes, videos of all of the Legislature’s public meetings would have to be (1) recorded, (2) posted on the Internet within 24 hours following the end of the meeting, and (3) downloadable from the Internet for at least 20 years. (These requirements would take effect beginning January 1, 2018.) In addition, members of the public would be allowed to record and broadcast any part of a public legislative meeting. Proposition 54 also changes state statute so that anyone could use videos of legislative meetings for any legitimate purpose and without paying a fee to the state.

Financial effect

Legislative Analyst's Office

The fiscal impact of Proposition 54 would depend on how the Legislature decides to meet these new requirements. The main costs of the proposition relate to the recording of videos of legislative meetings and storage of those videos on the Internet. The state would likely face: (1) one-time costs of $1 million to $2 million to buy cameras and other equipment and (2) annual costs of about $1 million for more staff and online storage for the videos. These costs would be less than 1 percent of the Legislature’s budget for its own operations. 

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

Democrats, Republicans and Independents agree it’s time to PUT VOTERS FIRST, NOT SPECIAL INTERESTS.

THAT’S WHY DIVERSE GROUPS LIKE the League of Women Voters of California, California Chamber of Commerce, California State Conference of the NAACP, Latin Business Association, California Common Cause, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, League of California Cities, California Forward, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, California Planning and Conservation League, and many others, URGE YOU TO VOTE “YES” ON PROP. 54.

  PROP. 54 WILL:

  • Require every bill to be posted online and distributed to lawmakers at least 72 hours before each house of the Legislature is permitted to vote on it (except when the Governor declares an emergency).
  • Prohibit any bill passed in violation of this 72-hour requirement from becoming law.
  • Make audiovisual recordings of ALL public legislative meetings.
  • Post those recordings online within 24 hours, to remain online for at least 20 years.
  • Guarantee the right of every person to also record and broadcast any open legislative meetings.
  • Require NO new taxpayer money.

The Legislature’s existing budget will cover this measure’s minor costs.


“We have long opposed the California Legislature’s practice of making last minute changes to proposed laws before legislators, the press, and the public have had a chance to read and understand them. Such practices make a mockery of democracy.”—Peter Scheer, FIRST AMENDMENT COALITION

“Proposition 54 gives all people the opportunity to review, debate, and contribute to the laws that impact us all.”—Alice Huffman, CALIFORNIA STATE CONFERENCE OF THE NAACP Proposition 54 will stop the immediate passage of legislation that has been “gutted and amended”—a practice that replaces, at the last minute, every word of a bill with new, complex language secretly written by special interests, thereby making major policy changes with no public input.

“Proposition 54 finally gives voters the upper hand, not the special interests, and improves the way business is done at our State Capitol.”—Ruben Guerra, LATIN BUSINESS ASSOCIATION

Special interests and the political establishment fear voters might track from home what happens in the Legislature’s public meetings. Sacramento lobbyists don’t believe the people can be trusted with this information—or with time to act on it.

Yet sixty-nine California cities representing 15 million people, and thirty-seven county boards of supervisors representing 27 million people, already post recordings of their meetings online.

Our Legislature should catch up.

“Proposition 54 will create a more open, honest, and accountable government. It’s time to give voters a voice in the political process.”—Kathay Feng, CALIFORNIA COMMON CAUSE

CHECK IT OUT FOR YOURSELF at YES ON PROP. 54 is supported by good government, minority, taxpayer, and small business groups, seniors, and voters from every walk of life, every political persuasion, and every corner of the state.

PROPOSITION 54 was written by constitutional scholars and has been carefully reviewed and vetted by good government organizations who all agree Prop. 54 will increase transparency. That’s why special interests vigorously oppose it.

PROPOSITION 54 will reduce special interest influence by ensuring every proposed new law is subject to public review and comment BEFORE legislators vote on it. Vote YES on Proposition 54.

League of Women Voters of California

HOWARD PENN, Executive Director
California Planning and Conservation League

California Chamber of Commerce

— Secretary of State Voter Info Guide

Arguments AGAINST

Proposition 54 is on your ballot solely because one California billionaire, after spending millions of dollars trying to influence California policy and elections, is now using our citizen initiative process to pursue his own political agenda.

What is Prop. 54? It is a complicated measure that introduces unnecessary new restrictions on the way laws are crafted by the Legislature. It empowers special interests under the guise of “transparency.”

Rather than promoting accountability, Prop. 54 will slow down the ability for legislators to develop bipartisan solutions to our state’s most pressing problems.

For example, many bipartisan balanced budget agreements, the Fair Housing Act (which ended housing discrimination), and last year’s bond measure to address California’s drought likely never would have happened if this measure had been enacted.

Prop. 54 will throw a monkey wrench into the ability of our elected officials to get things done. It will give special interests more power to thwart the will of our elected officials. It makes it more difficult to address state emergencies.


While it sounds good, requiring the Legislature to wait three days before voting on a bill will give powerful lobbyists and well-funded special interests time to launch campaigns to attack bipartisan compromises. Special interests already have too much power in Sacramento. Prop. 54 will give them more.

PROP. 54 WILL CAUSE UNNECESSARY DELAYS Anytime a comma is changed in a bill, lawmakers will now be forced to wait three days to vote on it. That will mean unnecessary delays.

PROP. 54 WILL INCREASE POLITICAL ATTACK ADS Current law prohibits the use of Legislative proceedings in political campaign ads. Prop. 54 eliminates that rule, paving the way for millions of dollars in ugly campaign attack ads that will flood your screen before each election.


Who’s behind this measure? Charles Munger, Jr.—a billionaire with a long history of contributing millions to candidates that oppose increased education funding, the minimum wage, plans to make higher education more affordable, and other progressive issues—is the only donor to Prop. 54. He has spent more than $5.5 million to put this measure on the ballot.

Don’t let a single wealthy Californian bypass the Legislature to rewrite our state’s constitution to his own liking. Even the California Newspaper Publishers Association, which supports many of the concepts in this measure, has told the Capitol Weekly newspaper, it “doesn’t feel the initiative process is a good way to deal with public policy.”

Prop. 54 is opposed by the California Democratic Party, dozens of elected officials, environmental, labor, and other groups.

Vote NO on Prop. 54. Get the facts on and follow us on Twitter @NoProp54

STEVEN MAVIGLIO, Californians for an Effective Legislature

— Secretary of State Voter Info Guide

Replies to Arguments FOR

BIG MONEY IS BEHIND PROP. 54: DON’T BE FOOLED Just look at its main backer: the California Chamber of Commerce. This group—whose members include big oil, tobacco and drug companies—spent a record-shattering $4.3 MILLION lobbying the Legislature last year, according to the Secretary of State.

Prop. 54 will give these special interests even MORE power in Sacramento.

That’s the reason one billionaire, backed by big, out-of state corporations, is bankrolling Prop. 54.


California’s most significant achievements often occur when our elected representatives come to the table willing to find areas of compromise. Sometimes, powerful special interests don’t get everything they want.

One example is the bipartisan 2009 state budget agreement, historic action that saved California from bankruptcy. That bipartisan compromise was updated through the final hours prior to the vote. It earned the four Legislative Leaders that negotiated it the prestigious “Profiles in Courage Award” from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.

If Prop. 54 was in place, California might well have gone bankrupt.

The Legislature needs to work better, not be hamstrung by red tape. Prop. 54 unnecessarily requires the Legislature to wait 3 days before passing a measure in its “second house,” allowing special interests to defeat it.

California’s legislative work is transparent. Any citizen, at any time, can view any bill via the Internet. Audio and video is online free of charge.


ART TORRES, State Senator (Retired)

JERILYN STAPLETON, California National Organization for Women (NOW)

STEVE HANSEN, Council Member
City of Sacramento

— Secretary of State Voter Info Guide

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

A bill every legislator and every Californian has had 72 hours to read will be a better bill than one that they haven’t.

This shouldn’t be a partisan question: it’s just common sense.

In 2006 then-Senator Barack Obama sponsored, and then-Senator Hillary Clinton co-sponsored, the “Curtailing Lobbyist Effectiveness Through Advance Notification, Updates, and Posting Act,” or “CLEAN UP Act,” which called for each bill in the U.S. Senate to be “available to all Members and made available to the general public by means of the Internet for at least 72 hours before its consideration”.

What would work for the U.S. Senate, will work for the California Legislature.

That is why PROP. 54 IS ENDORSED BY A LARGE BIPARTISAN COALITION including the League of Women Voters of California, California Common Cause, California State Conference of the NAACP, League of California Cities, California Chamber of Commerce, Californians Aware, First Amendment Coalition, California Forward, Planning and Conservation League, California Black Chamber of Commerce, California Business Roundtable, National Federation of Independent Business/California, Latin Business Association of California, Hispanic 100, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, California Taxpayers Association, Small Business Action Committee, San Jose/ Silicon Valley NAACP, Monterey County Business Council, and the Los Angeles Area, San Francisco and Fresno Chambers of Commerce.

As the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE declared about Prop. 54, “Let the record also show that this was no partisan effort. Its advocates include a long list of respected reform groups such as Common Cause, California Forward and the League of Women Voters.”

Special interests sit through every committee meeting in Sacramento. They already know what bills live and die and why, and who votes with a special interest or against it. The way to level the playing field is to record the public meetings and post them online. Then we too will know.

Prop. 54 requires no new tax money. Prop. 54’s minor costs come out of the Legislature’s operating budget.

To learn more, see

Vote YES on Prop. 54.

California Taxpayers Association

TOM SCOTT, State Executive Director
National Federation of Independent Business/California

KATHAY FENG, Executive Director
California Common Cause

— Secretary of State Voter Info Guide

Who gave money?


Yes on Prop. 54

Total money raised: $10,870,771
Bar graph showing total amount relative to total amount for this entire campaign.

No on Prop. 54

Total money raised: $27,330
Bar graph showing total amount relative to total amount for this entire campaign.

Below are the top 10 contributors that gave money to committees supporting or opposing the ballot measures.

Yes on Prop. 54

Atlantic Advocacy Fund
California Common Cause
Dolby, Dagmar
Proteus Fund
New Majority California
Marmor, Michael
Mowry, Thomas
Stenman, Bruce

No on Prop. 54

California Democratic Party

More information about contributions

Yes on Prop. 54

By State:

California 99.11%
New York 0.62%
Colorado 0.14%
Massachusetts 0.13%

By Size:

Large contributions (99.97%)
Small contributions (0.03%)

By Type:

From organizations (1.33%)
From individuals (98.67%)

No on Prop. 54

By State:

California 100.00%

By Size:

Large contributions (99.90%)
Small contributions (0.10%)

By Type:

From organizations (100.00%)
From individuals (0.00%)

More information

News (2)

Videos (3)

— October 18, 2016 The Rose Institute of State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna College
— October 22, 2016 Sacramento State University
Sacramento State College’s Project for an Informed Electorate provides non-partisan videos on California’s ballot Propositions. Each video includes an appearance by a representative from the California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO). The LAO writes the state’s impartial analysis on each Proposition.

Contact Info

Yes on Prop. 54
Yes on 54—Voters First, Not Special Interests, Sponsored by Hold Politicians Accountable
Phone: (916) 325-0056
1215 K Street, Suite 2260
Sacramento, CA 95814
No on Prop. 54
Californians for an Effective Legislature
Phone: (916) 607-8340
1005 12th St.,
Suite A
Sacramento, CA 95814
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