Can the California Legislature Really Be Serious?

So let me get this straight.   The California economy is a mess:   Private sector jobs  in the state are  down 8% since  2007 (the national average is down  5.5%) . But the state legislature has time to do something like this?

“Gov. Brown vetoes ski helmet, phone fine bills”

Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday smacked down what he called overbearing and expensive proposals for state regulations by vetoing bills that would require that kids wear helmets when on ski slopes and increase fines for people who talk on cell phones or text while driving.

<snip>

In his veto message accompanying the helmet bill, SB105 introduced by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, Brown appeared to side with GOP critics who had characterized the measure as “nanny government.”

Brown, a Democrat, wrote, “While I appreciate the value of wearing a ski helmet, I am concerned about the continuing and seemingly inexorable transfer of authority from parents to the state. Not every human problem deserves a law.”

<snip>

A bill aimed at getting drivers off their cell phones also fell under Brown’s veto pen. The measure would have increased the base fines for texting or talking on a cell phone while driving by $50 on the first offense and $100 on subsequent offenses. The measure would have brought the total penalty to $328 for the first offense and $528 for subsequent offenses. It also would have applied to bicyclists, but with lower penalties.

Brown said that was too much. In explaining his veto of SB28, he wrote, “I certainly support discouraging cell phone use while driving a car, but not ratcheting up the penalties as prescribed by this bill. For people of ordinary means, current fines and penalty assessments should be sufficient deterrent.”

Or is there something here that I’m missing?

Comments

  1. Not a surprise given the past productivity of the California state legislature:

    “There’s No Budget, but California Is All Over the Foreign-Cow Issue
    As Deficit Looms, Lawmakers Promulgate ‘Cuss Free Week,’ Defend the State Rock

    On the brink of insolvency, California may have to pay its bills with IOUs soon. A budget was due three months ago, and the legislature hasn’t passed one.

    The lawmakers can, however, point to a list of other achievements this year. Awaiting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signature, for example, is a bill that would bar the state from filming cows in New Zealand. It’s the fruit of five committee votes and eight legislative analyses.

    California lawmakers also voted to form a lobster commission. They created “Motorcycle Awareness Month,” not to mention a “Cuss Free Week.”

    And they kept the California state rock safe. Senate Bill 624 had sought to bust the rock, serpentine. Adamant opposition protected it, but sponsor Gloria Romero declared this “an issue we should address again.””

    September 28, 2010
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704760704575515291872456622.html

  2. I was puzzling over what constituency was pushing for this stuff and I finally figured it out; the LA stand-up circuit.

  3. Check out how IBM’s Watson is displacing the need for primary care Physicians by simply generating a treatment based on those assigned to the same combination of symptoms :

    http://www.siliconvalley.com/latest-headlines/ci_18877982

  4. California legislators are limited to two terms — 4 years, in other words. That’s not enough for most of them to become grounded deeply enough in details to actually comprehend and draft a budget, become experts on state university policies or waterways or conservation issues of any signficance. That’s not enough time to build alliances with similarly informed politicians and educate other legislators to get meaningful bills passed.

    Also, most issues of interest general public wind up on the ballot. Legislators can debate them and pass resolutions, but the voters make the final decisions on many issues, especially issues which deal with state finances. Legislators get to fiddle with trivialities.

    Finally, the California Republican party is a bit uncooperative — they make Republicans in the US Congress look like poster kids for bipartisan politics. Alas, thanks to gerrymandering, both Republicans and Democrats are essentially guaranteed to preserve nearly equal numbers in the the legislature until the end of time.

    The upshot is that most state legislators are just passing through Sacramento on their way to lifetime appointments at state regulatory boards or other political old folks homes.

    It’s a disfunctional system,if you think state legislators ought to be doing stuff. But the voters love it.

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