For years, Santa Barbara students have been fighting for greater representation and say in Santa Barbara County. According to the most recent secretary of state report, Santa Barbara County has the second highest 18-25 age voting demographic in the State at 17.41 percent. Yet, continually, Isla Vista is largely left out of the process by the political establishment.
As the secretary of the UCSB board of CALPIRG students, I have spent my time fighting on behalf of those who feel voiceless and powerless in our current system. Millions of Californians feel the same way UCSB students feel — that entrenched establishment voices matter more than theirs. Luckily, Californians will have the opportunity this November to change the system.
Proposition 54 — the California Legislature Transparency Act — will put our voices first by requiring all bills being considered in the state legislature be posted online and be in print for 72 hours prior to a final vote in both houses. It will also require all committee hearings open to the public to be recorded and posted online within 24 hours and will allow attendees of public hearings to record and post their videos of the hearings.
Millions of Californians share our problem; there is no easy way to Sacramento without a significant investment of time and money. The current system ensures only those with money or close proximity can attend committee hearings and have their voices heard. The result is legislation that benefits a small few at the expense of the majority.
Proposition 54 will bring democracy and transparency to all Californians with access to the internet. Committees will no longer be held in obscure Capitol rooms that escape media attention and public scrutiny, but instead in homes and dorm rooms across California. This new access to the legislative process will level the playing field between Californians and special interests, since lobbyists will no longer have an unchecked power to a legislator’s ear.
With legislation posted online for 72 hours, Californians will have time to review legislation that matters to them. After reading the legislation, Californians will be able to have educated conversations with their elected representatives and express their concerns or support. Legislators will benefit because they will hear directly from their constituents on how legislation affects their district and thus can vote accordingly.
With the outdated rule banning video recordings of legislative sessions overturned, Californians will finally be able to follow the legislative process from start to finish. Californians will be able to see more than just a roll call of votes, but gain full access to a bill’s deliberations prior to a vote. Hundreds of cities and counties already allow it, so should our state Legislature
Proposition 54 will deliver meaningful reform by making our legislative process more transparent while including millions of Californians from the legislative sidelines. If you feel our democracy should be more inclusive and that our government should be more transparent with its workings, then I encourage each of my fellow Gauchos to join me in voting “Yes” on Proposition 54 on Nov. 8. It’s time to end business as usual.
Cole Hyatt is the current secretary of the UCSB board of CALPIRG students. Cole is a third-year Gaucho originally from Oceanside.