Did Sacramento break the law in transportation tax rush?

los-angeles-freewaysDid lawmakers break the law when they passed Senate Bill 1, the transportation tax increase?

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There’s a quaint provision in the California Constitution that reads, “A person who seeks to influence the vote or action of a member of the Legislature in the member’s legislative capacity by bribery, promise of reward, intimidation, or other dishonest means, or a member of the Legislature so influenced, is guilty of a felony.”

By the time Gov. Jerry Brown finished twisting arms and greasing palms to pass a massive transportation tax hike, that antique language was on the curb like a broken grandfather clock waiting for a bulky-item pickup.

Brown and legislative leaders promised a billion dollars for specific local projects in the districts of wavering lawmakers, and one termed-out Republican senator made a deal for a law to protect people in his profession — civil engineering, not the profession you’re thinking of — from liability in construction lawsuits.

It’s not easy to prove a quid pro quo, Latin meaning “something for something.” People don’t typically leave a written record that says, “I’ll vote for this if you vote for that.”

But one thing is different this time. In November, California voters passed Proposition 54, a measure aimed at guaranteeing transparency in state lawmaking. Prop. 54 says bills must be in print and online in their final form 72 hours before the Legislature votes on them.

The transportation tax increase, SB1, was posted online on April 3. If the Legislature was going to meet its self-imposed deadline to pass the bill on April 6, not one word of it could be changed before the vote.

So all the wheeling, dealing, greasing, and “promise of reward” had to go into a separate bill.

And it did.

SB132 contains a billion dollars of “that” which was negotiated in exchange for a vote on “this.”

Not only is it in writing, there are many statements on the record from lawmakers that their vote for the transportation tax was explicitly tied to a promise from the governor and legislative leaders that the “thats” would be delivered.

Are the deals spelled out in SB132 a violation of the law under Proposition 54? They are effectively amendments to SB1 that were written into a different bill. If that’s legal, then the 72-hour requirement that voters just added to the state constitution has already been thrown to the curb with the rest of the grandfather clocks.

Before the truck comes to pick up the garbage, we should retrieve that language about bribery and reward and see if it applies to outgoing Sen. Anthony Cannella’s deal to condition his vote for SB1 on the passage of SB496, a bill Cannella authored to protect “design professionals,” including civil engineers, from lawsuits stemming from future work. “Anthony is a civil engineer,” Cannella’s official bio states.

Maybe you’re thinking it won’t pass. He was ahead of you. Language was added to the billion-dollar spending bill, SB132, to make it “operative” only if SB496 is enacted.

In addition to the billion dollars of “reward” written into SB132 on April 6, the bill was amended on April 5 to add $1 billion for “augmented employee compensation.”

Yes, another $1 billion of “compensation increases and increases in benefits” for state workers was slipped in while everyone was wondering where the state spent all our transportation taxes.

Talk about being taken for a ride.

Susan Shelley is a columnist and member of the editorial board of the Southern California News Group, and the author of the book, “How Trump Won.”


  1. Andrew Kessel says

    Corruption in the capital, as usual. Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore has called for an investigation from AG Becerra for the reasons stated above. At least someone is doing something about this, even though Becerra is probably corrupt also.

  2. Remove Moonbeam and his criminal regime NOW!

  3. Yes, Brown and his Democratic band of corruption passed a tax law without putting it before the people. Stop this corruption and revoke this law.

  4. It’s merely what is expected – business as usual. Nothing strange or unusual here. If you want something to talk about, find an occurrence of the opposite – that’s rarer than hen’s teeth.

  5. Thom Raasio says

    The only thing EQUAL to the repulsiveness of ISLAM and SHARIA law is EVERY POLITICIAN in the California LEGISLATURE and courts. These are the MOST VILE people in all of America. The SEWERS of their individual minds is spilling out all over us. California aught to hold a state-wide PARTY of JOY and HAPPINESS every time one of these A– — HOLES die.

  6. The liberals solution to the problems of California is to leave for a low tax state & then vote in liberals to destroy that state. As for this problem; the left just makes up the law as they go along. No hope.

  7. retiredxlr8r says

    I said it when it passed, Gov Brown’s a criminal!
    And he bought a lot of the knuckle draggers off to get it passed.
    At my expense I might add!
    Thief’s, plane and simple, steal my money to pay for their corruption!
    Yep! It’s illegal, but nobody will do anything about it. The whole state is in the tank for welfare, entitlements, and graft.

  8. J. Richards Garcia says

    Susan Shelly nailed it again in this article for the CA POLITICAL REVIEW. Governor Brown and demon-cats of Sacramento routinely act as if the state constitution and laws are for everyone else but them to obey. If we save ourselves from California, we go a long way to save the USA. We must send many salvos of political Tomahawk missiles and MOABs into Sacramento. Un-electing is a convincing Tomahawk. Take political scalps for the POLITICAL REVIEW! And may the MOABs be with you.

    We must start by RECALLING Governor Brown, right away. Do something today to get the ball rolling.

  9. What? The Gov and legislature break the law! Horror upon horrors. Whodathunkit.


  11. Mike Connelly says

    How about accepting a bribe? Let’s bust all of them.

  12. to see where some of that money is going check the new regulation the air resource board is pushing an attempt to control where we live and travel to. using facial id software cross referenced with our d.m.v. records and our ss numbers. the excuse is smog check check out arb website under new regs,

  13. DAVID J.iNGRAHAM says

    We must live with this corruption, because no body cares how corrupt California government is every body sees it as business as usual.

  14. Brown et al Lied, and Lady California cried.
    Or, in other words: S.N.A.F.U.!

  15. Victoria Smith says

    Oh my goodness, tell me it isn’t so…corruption in Sacramento. Those of us in Oroville, who were just put in harm’s way, due to dereliction of these corrupt politicians, who have taken our taxes and spent them irresponsibly (not for what they were intended) understand all too clearly the fall out from their malfeasance.

  16. Gary Von Neida says

    Governor MOON BEAM acts as though He is above the law; probably did too much L.S.D. in the 60’s.

  17. Arm twisting by bribery? Don’t make me laugh! The law-breaking chicanery that goes on in Sacramento is exactly what you would suspect when you have one party tyranny.

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