SAN FRANCISCO -- With debate still raging about how it should be interpreted, the new voter-approved Proposition 54 law could be headed all the way to the California Supreme Court for greater elucidation.

In early November, more than 65 percent of all California voters cast their ballots in favor of a law requiring lawmakers to end the practice of passing last-minute legislation, particularly in instances where the bill’s language hasn’t been distributed to the public prior to passage, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The ongoing dispute between Democratic lawmakers and government-accountability groups now centers on whether the law’s mandated 72-hour waiting period applies to either chamber of the legislature, or only when the proposal is on the verge of being sent to the governor’s desk for signature.

The high-stakes game of showmanship between two unwavering sides could go on well into 2017, by which time the case is finally expected to have made its way onto the crowded docket of California Supreme Court judges.

“The arguments will probably be many, but I can’t think of a single legal reason why Proposition 54 would not be upheld by the courts as constitutional,” Tom Hogen-Esch, professor of political science at California State University, Northridge, told the Northern California Record. “The California state constitution is a lengthy document, one with many, many provisions, but in this instance, it seems a case of the voter having already spoken.”

Lawmakers recently enacted operational rules that take the far more narrower interpretation of the law to heart. Specific language now mandates that only a “Senate bill shall not be voted upon by the Assembly for final passage” until after the 72-hour waiting period.

Hogan-Esch doesn’t think that development will sit well with voters, the majority of whom overwhelmingly cast their ballot in favor of the three-day waiting period.

“You could argue that’s not what voters had in mind when they went to the polls in the droves they did to vote in favor of this bill and its passage as strongly as they did,” he said.

Almost from the moment it was placed on the ballot, disputes have stirred about the bill’s true intent and what impact its policies could have on legislative dealings.

Critics of the initiative have long argued that the 72-hour waiting period simply provides powerful and unrelenting special-interest groups with yet another avenue they could use to dismantle the kind of alliances that are often needed for the passage of many of the most controversial but critical policies.

With local Democrats already on record in vowing to do all they can to stymie such actions as the immigration crackdown Republican President-elect Donald Trump has longed promised to carry out, debate over the legality of the bill is expected to only build.

“This issue isn’t going anywhere anytime soon,” Hogen-Esch said. “It isn’t going anywhere until a court has weighed in on it and cleared up all the ambiguity. In that sense, the battle may only be just beginning.”

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