The San Francisco Chronicle
Not everyone has earned a holiday this Labor Day.
We have repeatedly expressed our disgust at the way Assembly members have made a custom of ducking important votes. Under Assembly rules, a majority of members on a committee — not just those who actually vote — is required for passage.
Time after time, major bills are being defeated when a potentially decisive bloc of legislators “take a walk” when the roll is called.
A study of the 2001-02 session by public-policy graduate students at USC has quantified the extent of the problem. Their findings are an indictment on performance of our so-called “representatives in Sacramento.” On average, when a bill failed in the Assembly, 29.5 percent of the members voted yes, 36.3 voted no — and 34.3 did not vote.
Our own research has shown that the problem is not going away. Many significant bills — notably on consumer protection, public health, environmental protection — died this session in similar fashion.
The study has prompted the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, an advocacy group from Santa Monica, to propose a “No vote, no pay” initiative for 2006. Legislators who fail to vote would lose their salary for that day.
Equally critical, the initiative would make it much easier to track nonvoting patterns. The USC students were forced to tediously go through the legislative records, vote by vote. Under the initiative, nonvoting rates would be available online and in voter pamphlets.
One bright note in the study was the record of Assemblyman Dave Cox, R- Fair Oaks. He voted every time he had the chance. We hope he is enjoying Labor Day; he earned this day off.
Worst Assembly nonvoters
Percentage of times the member did not vote on a bill that failed in the 2001-02 session
Nonvoting Member —————- rate —— votes
1. Jerome Horton, D-Inglewood 60.0% —– 60
2. Tony Cardenas, D-Sylmar* 58.5 ——– 65
3. Kevin Shelley, D-San Francisco* 54.8 ——- 62
4. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles*+ 54.1 ——- 61
5. Manny Diaz, D-San Jose 49.5 ——- 91
6. Thomas Calderon, D-Montebello* 47.7 —— 65
7. George Nakano, D-Torrance 44.1 ——- 68
8. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana 43.5 —— 69
9. Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Chino 43.3 —– 60
10. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto 43.3 —– 67
You can get contact information for Assembly members at http://www.assembly.ca.gov
You can view the full report, “Out for the Count,” at
* No longer in the Assembly.
+ Cedillo had many excused absences due to wife’s illness.