The last possible moment for California's bumbling state senators and assemblymen to nudge their pet bills onto Governor Jerry Brown's desk is this Friday, August 31 at midnight.
Needless to say, the state Capitol is in a state of fluttering papers/utter mayhem right now.
It's hard enough to know what's going on in Sacramento when you're in Sacramento -- so way down here in La La Land, we're often groping around in the dark. There's really no way to tell which pointless, insane or just plain silly laws will be gutted and amended by state Legislators in these last few frantic seconds before session's end. But after poring through all the recently proposed and/or amended bills, we found a few...
... that reek to high heaven of special interests and reelection brownie points. It's hard to tell what some of these bills even mean, due to jargon and roundabout wordiness -- but the cagey language factor alone is enough to set off our BS censor.
So here you have them: The 10 stupidest California bills that Legislators are trying to slam through at final hour, in no particular order. (As if this state doesn't have enough stupid laws as it is.) Happy session, doofuses!
10. Remove student test scores from teacher evaluations.
Meet Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes -- a Democrat from the Valley who L.A. Weekly has called the "The Worst Legislator in California," for his unquestioning habit of accepting and floating any old bill ghostwritten by a special-interest group. In the case of AB 5, that special interest is clearly the California Teachers Association, hell-bent on protecting its paying members from any sort of real job evaluation. (Specifically, job evaluation based on student test scores.) L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has ripped into the bill, saying it would "reverse the progress LAUSD has made in establishing a better system of teacher evaluation" and "prevent any opportunity for school districts, including LAUSD, to be granted funding flexibility from federal No Child Left Behind requirements." And Bill Lucia of EdVoice explains to the Silicon Valley Mercury-News that the bill "got hijacked by people who do not want to use data in a meaningful way to look at the job effectiveness of adults." How very Fuentes. For further reading, see L.A. Weekly education expert Patrick Range McDonald's "Will Felipe Fuentes and Gov. Jerry Brown Water Down Teachers' Evaluations?"
9. Prohibit acupuncturists from using the prefix "Dr."
Butt-hurt real doctors who spent years and hundreds of thousands of dollars on their medical degrees score a win with Senator Leland Yee's SB 628, which "would make it unprofessional conduct for an acupuncturist to use the title of 'Doctor' or use the abbreviation 'Dr.' in connection with the practice of acupuncture unless he or she holds a license authorizing that use or a specified degree. Thank god we got that cleared up.
8. Let local governments force homeowners to pay for sidewalk repairs.
Like so many bills, Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes' AB 2231 -- originally pitched as a hard requirement that cities and counties pay for sidewalk/street repair, instead of forcing the costs onto homeowners -- has since melted into near-meaningless mush, thanks to a series of amendments. As the watered-down bill currently stands, any local ordinance that puts sidewalk-repair responsibility onto the government (like L.A.'s 1974 ordinance) can now be overturned by way of election, and cities that don't have such an ordinance in place can continue on their evil path of indirect taxation. Of course, L.A. City Council members are opposed to even the scarce restrictions this bill still puts on their ability to change the policy, but they kind of already can't, due to intense litigation from handicapped folks. And it's not like the city is doing much sidewalk repair anyway. So all in all, this is a big empty attempt by Fuentes to get elected to L.A. City Council, while not really pushing the sidewalk issue in either direction.
6. Declare June 15 "Justice for Janitors Day."
Oh, and here's some easy union support for notoriously bought-off L.A. legislator Fuentes: Give the state's janitors a great big pat on the back, without actually having to improve working conditions for them at all! Don't get us wrong -- we love janitors as much as the next slob. But ACR 155 is a do-nothing resolution at a time of state collapse, so lazy in masking its origins that it actually mentions a specific union in its body:
WHEREAS, For two decades, the SEIU United Service Workers West Justice for Janitors movement has helped low-wage workers who clean buildings in major cities and suburbs across California to achieve social and economic justice and earn broad-based support from the public as well as religious, political, and community leaders;
Fuentes can now join said ranks of political leaders who "support" the cleaner-uppers of California. Or, more accurately, their rich and powerful SEIU keepers.
5. Extend deadline for mail-in ballots.
Good news, slackers: Under AB 1466, you won't need to mail in your absentee ballots until the day of the November 6 election. The bill is an instant shoo-in on Brown's end if approved by the Assembly and Senate -- and because it's strangely classified as "budget trailer legislation," it only needs a majority vote in the Legislature, not two-thirds. Skeptics see it as a clear move by the desperate governor to push through his tax increase, as Democrats are more likely to vote at the last minute. (Go figure.) "Given what this Legislature has done manipulating the ballot process, I think any eleventh-hour change in the manner in which the November election will be administered is immediately suspect," a spokesman for the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association tells the Sacramento Bee. Again, the real question here is: Why is a petty out-of-nowhere bill like this, one which will actually end up costing the cash-strapped state more money, so damn urgent? Ask bill author Darrell Steinberg, a Democratic senator representing -- where else? -- Sacramento.
4. Impose strict daycare snack rules.
As if daycare providers don't have enough to worry about (say, psycho kids with a million individual needs, and their backseat-driver parents), the state Legislature has decided that a last-minute snack crackdown is in order. Under AB 172, daycares are required to "provide the amount of food and the components in any meals and snacks served that are specified by the United States Department of Agriculture Child and Adult Care Food Program," some obscure set of federal guidelines that no sane mother in history has ever consulted while feeding her child. But if a daycare provider slips up and gives a kid too many chicken nuggets, or whatever, the evil child-fattener can be fined $50 per day. Thanks, Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Salinas), for another totally unenforceable, big-government waste o' time!
3. After months of big promises, overhaul the public pension system to underwhelming effect.
2. Commemorate Kwanzaa's 45th anniversary.
OK, who celebrates a holiday's 45th anniversary? 50th, maybe -- but 45th? Especially when that holiday is nothing more than a tribal-patterned fabrication, employed by elementary schools across America to create the appearance of colorblind community togetherness. But our opinions of Kwanzaa aside, why should California's elected officials have anything to do with convincing us that it's amazing? An actual excerpt from the ACR 160 language:
"WHEREAS, The Kwanzaa celebration, with its emphasis on history, values, family, community, and culture, speaks to African people throughout the world in a special way;"
We kid you not. And on top of throwing a 45th anniversary bash, this resolution would "proclaim December 26 through January 1 each year as Kwanzaa Week." Uh, what? Isn't that like proclaiming December 25 each year as Christmas Day? Assemblywoman Wilmer Amina Carter, solving the state's most pressing problems, one Rastafarian menorah at a time.
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1. Allow cops to use GPS tracking on persons suspected of misdemeanors.
Ultra-liberal San Francisco Senator Mark Leno was lauded by the libertarian media this spring for his privacy-protecting SB 1434, a bill that requires cops to obtain a search warrant before tracking a suspect via cellphone or GPS device. Not surprisingly, Leno's bill was back by the freedom fighters at the ACLU. (It's currently awaiting the governor's signature.) But then this week, out of nowhere, a super-similar bill resurfaces from the desk of, once again, Assemblyman Fuentes. AB 2055, his creepy version of Leno's GPS bill, allows tracking warrants to be issued not only for those suspected of felony crimes, but also for those suspected of misdemeanors. (Actually, just misdemeanor violations of the state's Fish and Game Code or Public Resources Code -- completely random, and way too specific for comfort.) Equally unsurprising is that instead of the ACLU, Fuentes' version is backed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office and the Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs -- leading the San Francisco Chronicle to question what, exactly, is hidden in the language of this supposed privacy bill that would make snoopy cops love it so much.