Politics & Government

California lawmakers quietly shelve bills that police their behavior

Numerous bills to crack down on California lawmakers have been shelved quietly by the Legislature in recent weeks.

Casualties included proposals to bar middle-of-the-night legislative sessions, to restrict lawmakers from receiving pay for serving on state boards within four years of leaving office, and to require annual disclosure by public officials of their pay, benefits, travel and other compensation.

Legislators opted not to dock per-diem pay for absences or to create a "do not call" list for campaign robocalls.

Republican Sen. Sam Blakeslee said the death last week of his proposal to ban the flow of thousands of dollars' worth of sporting events, golf outings, spa visits, theme park tickets and other gifts to legislators was no surprise.

"I think it's an embarrassment to the institution," said Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo. "We aren't willing to get tough on politicians that are feeding at the trough, and frankly, it's an outrage."

Blakeslee's bill, like numerous others, was sidetracked by legislative leadership before a floor vote, allowing members who opposed the measures to avoid taking a stand that could haunt them in a re-election campaign. Bills killed this year could be revived in 2012.

Legislation that would allow incumbents and political candidates to accept an anonymous contribution of up to $200 before disclosing the donor – double the current limit of $100 – passed the Assembly by a two-thirds margin, 54-13. It now goes to the Senate.

Not every measure to tighten restrictions on the Legislature or its members died.

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