California Common Cause Calls on CA Legislature To End Practice of “Gut and Amend” Bills

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Media Contact: Nicolas Heidorn, (916) 443-1792

SACRAMENTO – At the end of each legislative session, some bills are stripped of their entire contents and replaced with legislative language serving a completely different purpose that has not been reviewed by the public or most members of the Legislature.  California Common Cause strongly opposes this practice, commonly known as “gut and amend.”

Stated Kathay Feng, Executive Director of California Common Cause, “Public deliberation, involvement and oversight is fundamental to policy-making that is genuinely in the public interest. Gut-and-amend bills are tantamount to “bait-and-switch” schemes.”

California Common Cause calls on the Legislature to adopt a rule that all gut-and-amend bills will be subject to a minimum 5-day Sunshine Rule – that is making the bill available to the public in print for 5 days – to allow public and legislative consideration.  This should apply to any significant new policy introduced at the end of any legislative session, absent a state or local emergency declared by either the Governor or by 60% of both houses of the Legislature supporting the need for such emergency action.

Absent 5 days of public notice, California Common Cause urges all members of the California Legislature and the Governor to oppose gut-and-amend bills, based on the nonpartisan, procedural concern that they skirt critical public involvement and oversight.  
Nicolas Heidorn, California Common Cause Legislative Affairs Counsel stated: “No non-emergency legislation is so important that it justifies bypassing public discussion and review. We should resist the undemocratic impulse for secrecy and non-transparent government – it undermines public trust and confidence.”

California Common Cause’s policy opposing the use of “gut and amends” particularly focuses on the final five business days of the legislative session and on bills that will not be decided by the voters at the ballot box.

View our statement on “gut and amends” here.

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