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Pols using legislative resources touting ratings from interest groups

Posted by Allen Wilson on October 3, 2012

Of lately, we have been receiving e-mail and press release communications from California legislators regarding legislative updates and ratings from various interest groups.

Though, these messages are being circulated by using legislative resources and staff time 30 days plus before the primary and general election, which amounts to campaigning on the legislators part.

The California legislators should use the example from the State of Washington Legislature which are restricted from using such communications under State of Washington Law RCW 42.52.185 “Restrictions on Mailing by Legislators”:

(1) During the twelve-month period beginning on December 1st of the year before a general election for a state legislator’s election to office and continuing through November 30th immediately after the general election, the legislator may not mail, either by regular mail or electronic mail, to a constituent at public expense a letter, newsletter, brochure, or other piece of literature, except as follows:

(a) The legislator may mail two mailings of newsletters to constituents. All newsletters within each mailing of newsletters must be identical as to their content but not as to the constituent name or address. One such mailing may be mailed no later than thirty days after the start of a regular legislative session, except that a legislator appointed during a regular legislative session to fill a vacant seat may have up to thirty days from the date of appointment to send out the first mailing. The other mailing may be mailed no later than sixty days after the end of a regular legislative session.

     (b) The legislator may mail an individual letter to (i) an individual constituent who has contacted the legislator regarding the subject matter of the letter during the legislator’s current term of office; (ii) an individual constituent who holds a governmental office with jurisdiction over the subject matter of the letter; or (iii) an individual constituent who has received an award or honor of extraordinary distinction of a type that is sufficiently infrequent to be noteworthy to a reasonable person, including, but not limited to: (A) An international or national award such as the Nobel prize or the Pulitzer prize; (B) a state award such as Washington scholar; (C) an Eagle Scout award; and (D) a Medal of Honor.

     (c) In those cases where constituents have specifically indicated that they would like to be contacted to receive regular or periodic updates on legislative matters, legislators may provide such updates by electronic mail throughout the legislative session and up until thirty days from the conclusion of a legislative session.

     (2) For purposes of subsection (1) of this section, “legislator” means a legislator who is a “candidate,” as defined by RCW 42.17A.005, for any public office.

     (3) A violation of this section constitutes use of the facilities of a public office for the purpose of assisting a campaign under RCW 42.52.180.

     (4) The house of representatives and senate shall specifically limit expenditures per member for the total cost of mailings. Those costs include, but are not limited to, production costs, printing costs, and postage costs. The limits imposed under this subsection apply only to the total expenditures on mailings per member and not to any categorical cost within the total.

     (5) For purposes of this section, persons residing outside the legislative district represented by the legislator are not considered to be constituents, but students, military personnel, or others temporarily employed outside of the district who normally reside in the district are considered to be constituents.

Pols need to keep an open mind on my point, because the general public are already apathetic towards Sacramento when it comes to the use of legislative resources and staff time.

Reforms and ideas comes from the people in turn strengthens our legislative process, because the legislature belongs to the people!

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