SACRAMENTO (KCBS) – As state lawmakers approach their annual recess in less than two weeks and with hundreds of bills pending, a political watchdog group warned against a common practice of making wholesale changes to bills to get them passed.

The political watchdog group Common Cause called on lawmakers to avoid the “gut and amend” practice of essentially stripping proposed legislation of its original language and replacing it with something new in those harried last few days of the legislative session before the September 13 recess.

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“Whole bills will be gutted of all of their content and brand new language will be put in that really has no relation to the previous subject,” warned Common Cause’s Phillip Ung.

He criticized the process as a way of circumventing what should be months of hearings, debate and review.

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“Do legislators know what they’re voting on, especially in these cases where bills are gutted and amended and then voted on with less than 24 hours of public review?”

He contends the biggest loser is actually the public because voters are often left in the dark about changes.

“Common Cause’s big concern is that it’s a matter of public transparency and accountability and of course accessibility to laws that are being proposed in the Legislature that could affect the everyday lives of voters,” he said.

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