Reforming the California Legislature: Mission Impossible?


In the 1970s, California’s legislature was described as “the finest in the world” because of the expertise, diligence, and collegiality exhibited by its members. The opinion of the CA legislature, however, has undergone a stunning decline in the last 30 years. A recent Public Policy Institute of California poll found that the job approval ratings of the CA Legislature continue to be low — with 25% approving and majorities across all parties disapproving of the legislature’s performance.

Due to the hyper-partisan environment in Sacramento, the one thing that does appear to be bi-partisan is the willingness of both Democrats and Republicans to punish their member when they do attempt to get things done by working across the aisle. The dysfunctional nature of state politics led the Economist magazine to call California a “failed” state politically.

What reforms are being discussed in California to make our legislature more efficient, effective, and responsive? What can Californians learn from reforms occurring in other states?

Karl Kurtz, Director of the Trust for Representative Democracy at the National Conference of State Legislatures, discusses these question and more on this episode of the Maddy Report.