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How the Laws of California Are Really Made

Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010




Almost 40 percent of the bills introduced into the California legislature in 2007-08 (the most recent session for which statistics are available) were sponosred by outside interests, according to a study in the San Jose Mercury News.  These bills made up 60 percent of the bills that actually became law in our state.

One of the reporters for the Mercury series, Karen de Sa, will visit the Ethics Center Friday to talk about the influence of lobbyists in writing state legislation.  Here is how de Sa introduced her series:

"Imagine: At a time when California is lurching from crisis to crisis, a legislator has an idea to make life better. He puts together a bill, gathers support and shepherds it into law.

If only Sacramento worked like that. Instead, it often works like this:

A lobbyist has an idea to make life better — but only for his client. The lobbyist writes the bill, shops for a willing lawmaker to introduce it and lines up the support. The legislator? He has to do little more than show up and vote.

This is the path of the 'sponsored bill,' a method of lawmaking little noticed outside California's capital but long favored on the inside. In many states lobbyists influence legislators; in California, they have — quite baldly — taken center stage in lawmaking."

De Sa will be in conversation with Ethics Center Senior Fellow in Government Ethics Judy Nadler.  The event is part of the Center's Public Sector Roundtable and the University's Grand Reunion.

Tags: government ethics