#PNN_Sacramento Capitol Building in California

Forget about new protections for California kids cruising the internet. There will be no new requirements for crime labs to process old rape kits. And some households behind on their water bills won’t get more time to pay them back before their pipes get shut off. 

Those were some of the more than 200 bills California lawmakers killed today in the rapid-fire and often mysterious procedure known as the suspense file

Officially, the procedure promotes fiscal responsibility, allowing lawmakers to consider costly bills together and weigh their priorities. But it’s well known at the state Capitol that the suspense file is also a political tool that allows the most powerful legislators to keep controversial bills from reaching the Assembly or Senate floor — typically with no explanation, and sometimes without a public vote. 

“It’s driven by a hundred different factors, some of which we can never explain and maybe the transparency is weak on,” said Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, the San Diego Democrat who chairs the appropriations committee.

“But I’ve never once had the Speaker come to me and say, ‘This isn’t politically feasible.’”

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