Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Babysitters Club Doesn't Get to Unionize, and Other Stories of California Regulatory Absurdity

Sadly, the Babysitters Club won't be permitted to organize as a union.
During the last week of the Legislative session, we opined that any bill brought into existence by Senate President Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Perez had to be bad. Like Smuckers, only the exact opposite. And when we heard of AB 101, we weren't disappointed: this bill, which passed both houses of the Legislature, aimed to unionize home-based family providers of child care. Yes, the poor Californians whose relatives receive state subsidies for providing child care would have had to engage in collective bargaining with those relatives. And many of those relatives would've been forced out of providing this care by virtue of having to deduct union dues from the paltry subsidies. Fortunately, it appears that a modicum of good sense remains in Sacramento, because Jerry Brown has vetoed the bill.

On the other hand, Brown's approval of another bill shows that nanny statism still has a strong hold in California: AB 1319, which bans the use of the chemical BPA in the manufacture of baby bottles and cups, is now law. In our view, this bill is a classic example of a law whose consequences will likely be worse than the problem it's supposed to solve. It's unclear how dangerous BPA is in minute doses, so we're not sure it was necessary to bypass normal channels for regulating the safety of chemicals. On the other hand, BPA is ubiquitous in manufacturing, and AB 1319 sets a very low standard for allowable levels. So, the most likely result will be to expose factories that unintentionally use BPA to new legal risks.

If all this isn't silly enough for you, remember that legislative absurdity isn't limited to the left side of the aisle in Sacramento. After all, we've got SB 769, from Bakersfield Republican Jean Fuller. This bill, which Brown signed into law over the weekend, allows dead mountain lions to be stuffed and displayed in museums provided they weren't killed illegally. Yes, it's this sort of invaluable public service that your tax dollars pay for. (Hat tip to reader Hugh Akston on this.)


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