The California Globe heard from a member of the State Senate Friday evening that they won’t be shutting down for two weeks, but will be going back to remote voting – because COVID. Again.
This, despite that Office of Legislative Counsel ruled in 2020 that elected legislators can’t “call it in” – they must be physically present at committee hearings or Floor sessions to cast votes, an official opinion Sen. Brian Jones (R-Santee) still has on his Senate website.
It is unconstitutional to allow legislators to cast votes by calling it in from anywhere in the world Jones said:
“The Office of Legislative Counsel, the attorney for both the Senate and Assembly, has produced multiple written opinions over the years making it crystal clear that in order to vote on legislation, Senators and Assemblymembers must be physically present at committee hearings or on the Senate or Assembly Floor.
“Legislative Counsel has recently confirmed that long held position – remote voting by legislators is not permitted under the California Constitution – in a written opinion I received in May of this year.
Sen. Jones included The May 11, 2020 written opinion from Legislative Counsel which among other things states:
“… to the extent that virtual legislative sessions necessarily permit Members to be located in different physical places to which members of the public lack access, legislating remotely arguably violates the constitutional guarantee of open and public meetings.”
“… the California Constitution does not contemplate that members of the Legislature may participate or vote in legislative proceedings, including floor sessions and committee hearings, by means of remote access.”
Apparently Democrats in the Senate are still questioning Legislative Counsel about remote voting, and still getting the same answer.
Notably, as the Globe reported last year, the Assembly did not move to remote voting. We are hearing that Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon has no plans to do so.
Some lawmakers are also upset about having to come to Sacramento where “it’s too cold.”
Is the desire to not have to show up to work more contagious than COVID or the Omicron variant?
Here is the Office of Legislative Counsel’s 2020 official opinion on remove voting:200511_ltr_RemoteVoting