Wednesday, July 27, 2011

California's Government Tackles the Tough Issues!

It's not often we get to write about silly legislation that doesn't involve either state Senator Alex Padilla or the city of San Francisco, but today is one of those days, as Jerry Brown has signed two absurd new regulations into law.

First, the LA Times reports that Brown has signed SB 917 into law. In signing this bill, Brown has demonstrated his willingness to move beyond trivial issues like the state's grim finances, its gargantuan pension debt, its crippling taxes, and its miserable business climate to finally tackle something important: poorly run puppy mills. SB 917 bans the sales of pets on street corners and other public property, and toughens the penalties associated with animal abuse or animal cruelty; someone convicted of these crimes may now face up to a year in jail and a fine of $20,000. We love animals, but did Sacramento really need to take the time to pass this law? And are local police really going to go out and proactively enforce this? Given the recent rash of videos showing bureaucrats harassing kids with unlicensed lemonade stands, it's easy for us to imagine police somewhere pressing charges against a kid trying to give away puppies outside his house.

Second, do you remember that moment in Wall Street when Michael Douglas says, "If this guy owned a funeral parlor, no one would die"? With growing uncertainty about sovereign debt pushing gold prices into the stratosphere, Brown just signed a bill that will (wait for it) make gold mining more difficult in California. In a story we first noticed back in June, Brown has approved AB 120, which extends a moratorium on suction dredge mining for a further five years. Suction dredging is a technique that uses motorized rigs to suck mud and gravel out of riverbeds, and uses gravity to sort out bits of gold from the muck. Environmentalists claim it disturbs spots where salmon lay eggs and releases mercury into the water, though these claims are unsubstantiated by research. So, for those of you keeping score at home, California's environmentalists are so hostile to economic activity that the state is willfully taking itself out of the business of mining something that's selling for over $1,600 an ounce these days.

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