Monday, October 10, 2011

Bad Bill-a-Palooza 2011: A Look Back

Like many of you, we've been watching the desk of Jerry Brown in recent weeks, in order to see which of the dreadful bills passed by the Legislature would get his signature. Now that the deadline for signing or vetoing bills has passed, let's take a look back at the horror of the 2011 Legislative session.

The Good
  • The best things that happened in this session, without question, were all the truly awful ideas of the Assembly that died in the Senate. These included John Perez's plan to forcibly disincorporate the Los Angeles County town of Vernon, Mike Feuer's health-insurance power grab, and the passed-but-gutted municipal bankruptcy bill. Full credit also goes to the Senate for killing Jerry Brown's corporate tax plan and his proposal to renew the energy surcharge, as well as his attempt to bait-and-switch on the fire fee.
  • Thankfully, the Governor vetoed SB 469, which would've required non-union megastore chains to pay for an economic impact analysis before being allowed to build new stores in the state.
  • Brown also vetoed AB 101, which would've turned the Babysitters Club into a labor union.
The Contradictory
  • Remember the Governor's veto message for SB 105, in which he declared that "not every human problem deserves a law"? Apparently some human problems still do deserve a law, including smoking in apartment buildings, alcohol purchases at self-checkout stands, tanning beds, access to HPV vaccinations, cell phones in prisons, shark-fin soup, the cultivation of industrial hemp, improperly-stuffed dead mountain lions, and (very, very unfortunately) visibly unloaded handguns.
The Absurd
  • Our favorite piece of ridiculous legislation, without question, was the bill allowing the state to issue bonds in denominations as low as $25. Is California really this desperate for cash? Wait, never mind. . .
  • Brown also signed the Legislature's deal with Amazon into law. In case you missed it, California gets a $200 million hole in its budget, and Amazon gets a year to lobby the federal government for a rule that overrides its future obligation to collect sales taxes in the Golden State.
The Awful
  • California's unfunded public pension liability likely tops half a trillion dollars, and may devastate its finances sooner than you'd think. But don't worry; Brown and the Legislature have no serious plan to do anything about it.
  • The Governor also signed into law a pair of bills weakening the California Environmental Quality Act for certain large construction projects. Truly, the only capitalism that flourishes here is crony capitalism.
  • He had the good sense to veto the nanny unionization bill and the anti-WalMart measure, but there are still plenty of gifts under organized labor's Christmas tree this morning. Farmworkers will have an easier time organizing into unions than before. Cities with bans on union-friendly project labor agreements (PLAs) will no longer receive state funds for public works projects. And ballot elections will only take place in November, so as to save the pocketbooks of organized labor from the costs of contesting June ballots.
  • When law enforcement wants to search your computer or your file cabinets, they need a warrant to do so. Apparently the Governor doesn't think the contents of your smart phone deserve the same protection, because he vetoed a bill to require it.
  • The state's public universities, currently struggling to absorb hundreds of millions in budget cuts, will have to accommodate a lot more students, as Brown signed into law the California Dream Act, which allows undocumented immigrants to receive public assistance to attend a UC or Cal State. We're going to pay for this . . . how?


  1. RobOct 10, 2011 12:32 PM
    And of course, personal hobbyhorse AB 1117 was passed into law.

    My working dog friends are pretty much resigned to fighting this one in the courts, if we can get a good test case.
  2. GSLOct 10, 2011 12:34 PM
    Damn. Missed the report on that one.
  3. RobOct 10, 2011 05:27 PM
    Also, apparently an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court of the state Supreme Court decision allowing warrantless smartphone searches upon arrest was denied.
  4. GSLOct 10, 2011 05:29 PM
    Got that one via Wired.
  5. BobGOct 11, 2011 11:05 AM
    “There is science, logic, reason; there is thought verified by experience.
    And then there is California.”
    - Edward Abbey