Honor in Office

Constitutional Amendment

By Nancy Knigh

Publisher: The Bugle
Date: 1 July 09

The Bugle recently received an email from Jerrol LeBaron, Executive Director of Honor In Office about an initiative he wrote that is being reviewed by the Attorney General's office for inclusion on an upcoming election as an Amendment to the California Constitution. This initiative caught my eye because it gives the people of California the right to demand their legislators read and understand every bill they vote in favor of and more...

Simply stated, this Constitutional Amendment states that if a legislator is going to vote in favor of a bill, that legislator will swear under oath that he or she did indeed read the bill in its entirety and understood it. It also requires that the legislator swear under oath that his or her vote wasn~t in any way compromised through trading votes or undue influence.

This is just common sense, right? So why do we need to force our legislators to do their job with due diligence and understanding? Because legislators who are not necessarily educated sufficiently to read and understand the laws that they pass or write do get elected. In fact. many legislators must rely on their legislative analysts, their aides and special interest consultants for how to vote on a bill or on what to introduce as a future law.

Can this initiative actually help? "I think it can" says LeBaron. "The Honor In Office Act isn't telling a person how to vote. It is merely telling them to do what the constituents thought they were already doing. It's asking them to take their responsibility to the people seriously. It is saying we want you to read the bill and use your common sense."

This bill, if passed by the voters, may even improve the qualifications of candidates in future elections. Party volunteers with little formal education and special interest group cronies may become a thing of the past for lawmaker qualifications if, under oath, they must understand the laws they support. And if needed, a future provision can be introduced where legislators must submit a written declaration of their rationale for support of a bill. That would really put teeth into the voter's bite!

Read the Honor In Office Act online at www.honorinoffice.org/measure.php

--------- Nancy Knight is the Editor and Publisher of The Bugle.

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