Assembly Member Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) wants her colleagues to vote up or down, on the record, every bill that is heard in every committee. The current practice, routine in the Assembly and Senate Appropriations Committees and cropping up now and then elsewhere, is to simply hold without action any bill that the house leadership wants to protect its caucus from having to take a position on.
Melendez’s ACA 23 would allow voters at the next statewide election to amend the California Constitution to add the following provision:
A standing committee shall vote by roll call on each bill the committee hears to determine whether or not to recommend the bill to the house. A standing committee shall not hold a bill in committee in lieu of voting on whether or not to recommend the bill to the house. A chairperson whose committee violates this subdivision shall be removed from membership on the committee and shall not be reappointed to that committee for the remainder of the session.
Melendez’s staff offers several examples of recent bills held in committee despite marked bipartisan support, including her own Legislative Whistleblower Protection Act, which was held 4 times (AB 333 (2014), AB 289 (2015), AB 1788 (2016), and AB 403 (2017)). It was brought off the Senate Appropriations suspense file this year, apparently in response to the wave of sexual impropriety reports accumulating under the Capitol dome in recent years. “This bill received unanimous support throughout the legislative process, but was held in committee for years,“ notes her staff, and also:
“AB 67 (Rodriguez and Cervantes, 2017) would have made rape a violent felony and received only one Nay vote throughout the legislative process, but was held in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.”
“AB 270 (Gallagher, 2017), which would require a court to consider issuing a restraining order restraining a defendant who has been convicted of a crime of domestic violence from any contact with a minor who is a witness in the case, received unanimous support in the legislative process, but was held in the Senate Appropriations Committee.”
“AB 647 (Reyes, 2017), which would have provided a personal income tax credit for community college fees for students, received unanimous support in policy committee, but was held in Assembly Appropriations Committee.
“AB 2694 (Lackey, 2016) and AB 181 (Lackey, 2017), which would double the renter’s tax credit, received unanimous support in policy committees, but were both held in Assembly Appropriations Committee.
“AB 229 (Baker, 2017), which would have provided funding to better train district attorneys’ in prosecuting human trafficking cases, received unanimous support in policy committees but was held in Senate Appropriations Committee.
“AB 427 (Weber, 2015), which would have reduced the cost of daycare for military veterans, was held in Senate Appropriations Committee without an open rollcall vote.”
“AB 46 (Lackey, 2016), which would require a person who possesses date rape drugs to serve time in prison for up to three years, received unanimous support in policy committee but was held in Assembly Appropriations Committee.
“AB 75 (Steinorth), which would have allowed business owners to qualify for income tax credit, was held in Rev and Tax Committee without a public vote.”
“AB 1363 (Baker, 2017) and AB 351 (Melendez, 2017) which would have reallocated over one billion vehicle weight fee dollars towards new construction, highway operations, and local streets, was held in Assembly Transportation Committee with no vote recorded.”