.... Right back where I started from. "Go west, young man", advised Horace Greeley. Huell Howser found "California Gold". "I left my heart in San Francisco", Tony Bennett sang. The Golden Gate bridge, "Hooray for HOLLYWOOD", The L.A. Dodgers, the Giants, the Lakers, the mighty USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins call California home. And who could forget DISNEYLAND, and Beverly Hills, the beautiful beaches of the mighty Pacific Ocean, the snow-capped mountains of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, Hearst's Castle and the giant redwood trees of Yosemite national forest. What's not to like about the Golden State of California?
But hang on to your hat before you pack your bag and board a plane heading for Frisco, L.A. or San Diego. You might want to learn about some recent legislation that, when added to the high price of real estate and local and state property and income taxes, might have some influence on whether or not the journey would be worth the destination.
Here are some of the things the politicians in California have decided on recently that somehow, as so often happens, make it seem like they are taking this action only because they can.
- Law Enforcement (LE) must collect information on each stop they make and report it to the Attorney General each year. And the definition of profiling has been expanded to include race, gender, national origin, religion and sexual orientation. Assembly Bill (AB) 953 (I wonder when just being a human being is enough to warrant being pulled over by the Highway Patrol or local Policia?)
- The public can take videos of police officers. Senate Bill (SB) 411
(I wonder if this is allowable just when an arrest is being made, or anytime an officer is talking to a motorist or pedestrian, or maybe even when he's enjoying a doughnut and a cup of coffee at a local diner?)
- In police shootings, Grand Juries are barred in the investigations. SB 227 (I guess there's no longer a need to see if there is enough evidence to support arresting an arresting officer and bringing him to trial for any charge.)
- LE must secure a court-order before inspecting data on computers and cell phones. SB 178 (I suppose they want to give a law breaker enough time to erase any incriminating evidence they may have on their electronic files.)
- The new Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation (BUMMER) oversees growing, licensing, testing, transportation, distribution and sale of marijuana. SB 243,266, 643 (Does that sound like bureaucratic red tape, or what?)
- Concealed weapons are barred from school campuses. SB 707 (Good idea. How long did it take the legislature to think of this? How about non-concealed weapons?)
- Families and Law Enforcement officers can seek court restraining orders to remove someone's firearms if they pose a threat. SB 1014 (How long would that take while that someone still had the firearm?)
- Requires Parole Board to consider release of offenders who committed crimes when they were under 23 years of age. SB 261 (Oh well, I guess if you're 22 years old you really didn't understand that you were breaking the law.)
- Requires Parole board to release prisoners once they are "found suitable to leave prison." SB 230 (That's a corker. I'll bet even William Shakespeare couldn't define "found suitable to leave prison".)
- Allows people to contest a traffic ticket without first paying the fine. SB 405 (Not a bad idea, unless the driver is going 90 miles per hour in a school zone at 8:00 o'clock on a Monday morning).
- Requires parents to vaccinate children before they can attend school. SB 277 (There goes religious liberty and school attendance?)
- Day Care providers must be vaccinated. SB 792 (Are these to be provided free for those who can't afford shots?)
- Prohibits sale of electronic cigarettes to minors even if they do not contain tobacco. SB 216 (Two good ones out of 18 isn't too bad)
- Makes it easier for people to donate sperm or eggs, and for un- married parents who used "assisted reproduction" to become legal guardians of the offspring. SB 960 (I'm not sure about this one)
- Registers people to vote when they get new, or renew drivers licenses. (Are these citizens, legal residents, or just anyone who can get a fake driver's license?)
- Bans charging bridge toll fee to pedestrians and bikers. AB 40 (You want to cross, pay up. I have to, even in my Smart Car.)
- Allows beer tasting at Farmer's Markets. AB 774 (Any age limit here? I guess the drinkers will be walking home after imbibing and shopping.)
- Bans schools from using REDSKINS as mascots. Effective in 2017 AB 30 (How about "If you don't like the name, don't go to the game")
And if these aren't enough, consider that when the federal Justice Department ran a 2 year study nationally, they found about 30,000 criminal offenses on the books. But to find the exact number, as Ron Gainer of that department said, "You will have died and resurrected 3 times" and still not have an answer to that question, with 800 passed at the federal level just in 2014. And in sunny California, in 2014, Governor Brown was sent 1074 bills for his signature. What do lawmakers do? They make laws. Good, bad, or ugly, they have to justify their role, I suppose. Maybe we all should keep a little sharper eye on what goes on in the legislatures across the country, and in particular here in the great state of California. It's 10:00 P.M. Do you know where your representative is tonight, and what he's doing?