by: UC Davis School of Law
Four UC Davis School of Law students are working with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) to overhaul state laws governing campaign finance and political lobbying.
Olga Bykov '17, Dana Cruz '16, Raina Shah '16, and Itir Yakar '17 are working under the direction of FPPC Chair Jodi Remke and David Carillo, Executive Director of the California Constitution Center at UC Berkeley School of Law, and in collaboration with four Berkeley law students on a comprehensive review and revision of the Political Reform Act.
Adopted by voters in 1974 as Proposition 9, the Act has been amended numerous times by initiative and by the Legislature, resulting in a body of law that the FPPC has deemed overly complex and inconsistent.
FPPC officials say that in some cases, politicians accused of misconduct have used the complexity of the Act as a defense; in others, potential candidates have been discouraged from running when faced with difficulties of navigating the Act's complexities.
In response, the FPPC has initiated the Political Reform Act Revision Project, in which UC Davis and UC Berkeley law students are working to redraft the Act.
"The FPPC is always looking for innovative solutions and new perspectives," said Remke. "The University of California, including UC Davis School of Law, attracts some of the smartest students in the world, so I can't think of a better partner to help rewrite California's cornerstone public trust law. I'm excited to see what fresh eyes and bright minds will produce for the benefit of Californians in the future."
Dana Cruz said the students are nearing completion of their redraft, which simplifies the often convoluted language of the Act into "plain English," removes repetitive sections, inserts related regulations, and "essentially rewrites the Act so that it's very straightforward."
The draft will be reviewed by the FPPC and forwarded to the Legislature for approval--hopefully by the end of the year.
Working on the project has been a unique learning experience, Cruz said.
"It's not very often that you get the opportunity to get hands-on experience working on legislation that has the potential to impact everyone in the state," said Cruz, who hopes to work in public policy after graduation. "This project can really help to bring greater transparency to the political process and make it easier for the FPPC to do its job, and that's something that will affect 38 million Californians."