California's Legislature Fails to Practice What it Preaches

California Lawmakers

California lawmakers may preach openness when it comes to government matters, but they apparently do not believe that this philosophy should apply to them. Although they have over the years enacted several transparency and whistleblower laws, such legislation has not extended to the legislators.
Whistleblower laws are designed to protect from termination workers who report acts of misconduct on the part of their superiors. First enacted nearly two decades ago, the California Whistleblower Protection Act initially covered those employed in the state's public university system and was later extended to the courts. However, those who worked for state legislators were not given such protection. This legal gap has come to light in recent weeks after allegations of sexual harassment by elected officials throughout the country.
Lawmakers did enact legislation in 1975, in the wake of the Watergate scandal, which required the release of such information as disciplinary records. However, the rule has so many exceptions that it is not considered to be an effective way of dealing with misbehaving lawmakers. Significantly, the investigative reports concerning acts of misconduct and any related correspondence remain secret, preventing the public from knowing exactly what occurred. More about the issue of legislative privilege is available at
In a related matter, members of the California legislature have also exempted themselves from a rule pertaining to interstate travel. This law banned government-funded trips to states that legally discriminate against gay or transgender individuals. Eight states have been placed on the "travel ban" list, but the law does not prevent California lawmakers from going to any of them at taxpayers expense.
The legislators contend that they have the legal authority to take such action and must also do things necessary for their own security. Others in the state have challenged what they see as blatant hypocrisy by taking the issue directly to the citizens. A measure approved by the voters in 2016 now requires any law to be posted online at least three days before it can be voted upon by the legislature.