20 Aug 2006

47,000 New Laws in California Since 1966


Jill Stewart, in the LA Daily News, denounces some of California’s latest absurd legislative proposals.

IN 1966, California voters created a full-time Legislature after Speaker Jesse Unruh promised a dazzlingly “professional” Legislature instead of part-timers earning $6,000 yearly. By 2007, legislators will earn $145,097 in wages and per diem, costing roughly $200 million annually, yet taxpayers get a dubious “product” in return: mountains of pointless laws.

We are drowning in 47,000 new laws enacted since 1966, covering everything from the size of typeface on official notices on employee bulletin boards to the arcane timing dictating when you must use your windshield wipers.

You couldn’t know this, but it’s illegal to throw away your cell phone. Lawbreaker!..

in 2004, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made news. He vetoed 311 bills. His vetoes caused legislators momentary pause. They sent him “only” 961 laws in 2005. Arnold let 729 become law — a “record low” in our times.

He has vetoed bills to strip independence from charter schools, to tell schools what sort of sprinklers to install, to protect grape pickers from eating unwashed grapes. He vetoed Assembly Bill 13 to prohibit “Redskins” as a school mascot, and AB 723 to require “tolerance training” of our kids — by our racially divided teachers. He vetoed AB 391 to pay “unemployment” to locked-out workers seeking raises (noting that “unemployment” checks are for people who lose jobs due to actions not their own — not for clever workers in the midst of negotiations). And many more.

Now, the Legislature is frenetically considering up to 1,700 extra laws before its Aug. 31 deadline — an embarrassing brew of self-serving special-interest claptrap that’s intrusive, abusive, regressive or downright offensive.

Assembly Bill 2641 by Democrat Joe Coto of San Jose, with scads of bipartisan coauthors, is the Legislature’s greedy bid to lure campaign riches from multimillionaire tribes who back the bill. It lets the “Native American Heritage Commission” delay any ground-disturbing activity in California — think of the possibilities! — that unearths remotely arguable “burial” items. It lets this commission, promoting tribal interests, decide what’s a “burial ground” and halt projects.

In this bad dream, landowners must negotiate with designated “descendants” of bones. This “commission” should have no more power over your land than the chamber of commerce. With huge Assembly support, 42-2, it heads to the Senate floor.

Senate Bill 1523, by the bombastically business-hating Democrat Richard Alarcón of Sun Valley, seeks to punish Wal-Mart. It would require any city or county, before allowing a store bigger than 100,000 square feet (Wal-Mart), to order an “economic impact” report. The purpose is to create a costly barrier to a store that’s wildly popular with working folks. With a lopsided Senate Democratic vote of 24-12, it heads to the Assembly floor.

Another odious “Thank God we’re not poor” bill is SB 1578 by Democrat Alan Lowenthal of Long Beach, making it “a crime” to tether a dog to a stationary object longer than three hours. If you’ve spent time in South Central, Richmond or Compton, you know that families tether dogs at home to ward off gangs and dealers. California laws already ban inhumane treatment. This bill springs from spoiled brats earning $145,097. It even exempts the upwardly mobile: In recreation settings, dogs can be tethered all day. (Let the poor eat cake; the rest of us are rafting.) It passed the Senate 21-14, and heads to the Assembly floor.

And there’s AB 2360 from Democrat Ted Lieu of El Segundo, who snapped to it when Tom Cruise enthused over using an ultrasound device to watch his unborn child. This silly bill bans the sale of ultrasound machines to all but professionals. No word yet on preventing parental purchase of tall chairs, boom boxes and furniture with sharp corners. With big bipartisan Assembly support of 63-10, it heads to the Senate floor.

And many hundreds more. If you let them, politicians suffocate you with rules. I’m praying the governor gives us a new record low for California laws in 2006.


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