Amid concerns that proposed tougher ethics restrictions may not have enough support to become law this year, leaders of the state Senate are proposing that many of them be adopted as house rules in the interim.
Proposed state Senate resolutions would appoint a Senate ombudsman to hear and investigate complaints of misconduct and provide whistleblower protections to Senate staffers who report wrongdoing.
Another proposed resolution would ban fundraising by senators during the last four weeks of the session from lobbyist employers, lobbyist employees, lobbyist affiliates and political action committees.
“The current political climate has opened windows to reflect and drive cultural changes that would never have been possible a decade ago,” said Senate President Pro Tem
A trio of Republican Senators called the proposals "window dressing" and said they would introduce legislation to double prison sentences, to up to eight years, for any elected official convicted of bribery or selling votes.
"While we appreciate some of the efforts of our friends across the aisle, we're concerned they are only bringing forward window dressing solutions and Californians will see right through them," said Sen.
Asked about the blackout on fundraising proposed by Steinberg, Senate Republican leader
The proposals were seen by some other officials as a good first step, but others say they do not go far enough. Some of the proposals are already being debated as legislation.
"I certainly hope it [the resolution] is not done in lieu of my legislation because I think putting it into statute carries the weight of law that a resolution doesn't," Padilla said. "In addition, the way I have written the bill it applies to the entire Legislature, not just the Senate."
Because Padilla's bill also applies to the Assembly, some Senate officials are concerned it may not get the votes needed in that house and worry the governor might veto it if it reaches his desk. There is consternation that significant ethics bills may fail, leaving the Senate with little response to scandals that have plagued that house in recent months.
The ethics rules are in response to the March suspensions of Democratic Sens.