Charles Munger, Jr. ’79 spearheads government transparency amendment to California constitution

Feb. 5, 2016, 1:13 a.m.

A Stanford alumnus’ newly proposed constitutional amendment, the California Legislature Transparency Act, stresses the importance of openness in government. Initiated by campaign financier and namesake of Stanford’s Munger Graduate Residence, Charles Munger, Jr. ’79, along with former California State Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee, the act seeks to improve public accessibility of accurate and timely information about future pieces of legislature.

“Senator Blakeslee and I have worked to write this [act] in a way that whatever party is in control, whoever is in power, [the government] will be better if this passes,” Munger said. “[This initiative] gives the people the tools needed to hold their government accountable.”

The act itself is comprised of three main points that seek to amend the California Constitution.

The first point states that all bills in the final stages of voting must be finalized in print and made publicly available online at least 72 hours before a vote is taken. This prevents major changes right before voting occurs and encourages public comprehension. The second point requires all committee hearings and floor sessions to be recorded fully and made publicly available online within 24 hours after the closing of the session or hearing. The final point legally permits audience members to videotape these hearings and floor sessions. Currently, videotaping by an audience member is considered a misdemeanor.

The process of getting the act on the ballot, however, is still in the works. Representatives are working to collect the 585,407 signatures required by the Secretary of State for the initiative to qualify. The Transparency Act’s campaign is also currently working on developing its website, where Munger says social media will play a large role in spreading the word. If the initiative is passed, all of these provisions will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2017, with the exception of the provision requiring recordings of all proceedings within 24 hours, which would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

Stanford students as well as students across the country, Munger said, can get involved by voicing a desire for change and following the act’s development online.

“A modern university contains people that are more electronically connected than ever,” Munger said. “If [students] want to be able to see bills on their phone, they need to make that clear to the legislature.”

“I would recommend this for all states,” Munger added. “It’s time for all state legislatures to join the 21st century.”


Contact Arielle Rodriguez at arielle3 ‘at’

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