Abominations Dodged, Abominations Passed

Photo: Josh Arason

Photo: Josh Arason

The Legislature has wrapped up its work, passing on a passel of truly bad bills to Gov. Brown, who will sign most of them. A few truly abominable bills didn’t pass, thankfully. Here’s the rundown:

Abominations Passed

California is on its way to once again having the most onerous gun control laws in the nation, as these bills passed:

  • SB 374 by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento — would add all semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines to the state’s list of banned assault weapons.
  • SB 475 by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco — would ban gun shows at the Cow Palace exhibition hall for all intents and purposes, since its requires approval from San Francisco and San Mateo supervisors for such shows.
  • SB 683 by Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego — would require owners of long guns to earn safety certificates like those already required of handgun owners.
  • AB 48 by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley — would ban conversion kits that allow people to turn regular magazines into high-capacity magazines.
  • AB 180 by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland — would give Oakland an exemption from state pre-emption so it can pass its own stricter gun registration or licensing statutes.
  • AB 711 by Assemblyman Anthony Rendon, D-South Gate — would ban use of lead ammunition in hunting. One of my clients, Tejon Ranch, jumped the gun on this one (pardon the pun), banning lead ammo a number of years ago in order to protect condors from lead poisoning they were getting from consuming lead shot in carrion they were eating. That’s great, truly, but I worry that anti-gun forces now have an easy lift to find reasons to ban copper and other types of ammo as well.

Other abominations:

  • Planned Parenthood-sponsored AB 154, would allow nurses, midwives and other non-doctor medical professionals to perform abortions in Planned Parenthood clinics – saving the big abortion group big bucks – and elsewhere.
  • AB 10 by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville — would hike the minimum wage from $8 an hour to $9 next July and to $10 in January 2016. Gov. Brown has signaled enthusiasm for this bill, which (natch) will give California the highest minimum wage in the land,. And that will make California less competitive. Fortunately, an indexing provision that would have resulted in automatic increases was dropped.
  • SB 4 by Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Calabasas — would impose regulations on fracking and other alternative means of extracting oil and gas. Most fracking in California occurs 1,000 feet or so below aquifers, so the risk of damage by fracking is tiny compared to the economic benefits fracking will bring. Greens opposed this bill because they thought it didn’t go far enough, but they needn’t  worry: This is California where regulations just get tougher and tougher, until they go far beyond what logic and science would dictate.
  • AB 4 by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco — the TRUST Act, would partially withdraw California’s cooperation in the federal Secure Communities deportation program. The California Immigrant Policy Center, which would like to see illegal immigrants treated as citizens (at a minimum), loves the bill: “The TRUST Act limits cruel and costly requests from immigration authorities to detain people in local jails for extra time, and local expense, just for deprotation [sic] purposes.” In other words, lawful jailing of illegal immigrants pending deportation is now unlawful in California.
  • More notoriously on the immigration front, AB 60 by Alejo would let illegal immigrants living in California obtain driver’s licenses. Brown has signaled he will sign it, which would break his campaign pledge to fight drivers licenses for illegals. Another slide down the slippery slope to no borders.

Abominations on Ice

Before popping open the champagne, remember that any of these bills not passed by the Legislature could come back next year – and several likely will:

These gun control bills didn’t make it on their first try:

  • SB 47 by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco — would have banned “bullet buttons” that allow fast swapping of rifle magazines.
  • SB 53 by Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles — would have required background checks for ammunition purchases.
  • SB 396 by Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley — would have forced Californians to give up all ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, no matter when they were bought. Its a short step from being forced to turn in your gun components to being forced to turn in your guns.

Also on ice:

  • One of the worst bills of the session, SB 323 by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Long Beach, didn’t make it this year. It would have revoked the tax-exempt status of any “public charity youth organization,” such as the Boy Scouts, that discriminates on the basis of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, nationality or religion.
  • Some may think I’m out of my gourd saying SB 135 by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Van Nuys  is an abomination, since it would require that the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services develop a comprehensive earthquake early-warning system. What could be wrong with that? Well, for starters, there currently is no feasible earthquake early-warning system to install. It would be smarter to watch China and Japan, which are dumping billions into developing a system, to see if they come up with something that works. If they do, we can copy it and save the billions California would waste on overwrought systems that don’t work, as is our tradition.
  • AB 976 by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego — would have allowed the California Coastal Commission to impose fines. The Commission is, as I wrote in Crazifornia, already the Star Chamber of the coast. More power is something it does not need.

The Democrats and their friends in the media insist on calling this session a moderate one, saying they restrained themselves from charting too Progressive a course in order to protect their chances in 2014′s elections. So, this mess is moderate, Crazifornia style.




Stop the Desecration of the 4th of July!

There are sane people in the California Legislature. They’re just outnumbered.  One of my favorite of the outnumbered and sane set is Diane Harkey (R, of course, 73rd), who has a keen nose for regulatory insanity. She’s just introduced AB 206, a bill that would exempt municipal fireworks shows from the heavy hand of the California Coastal Commission (and the California Environmental Quality Act, to boot).

This is a subject near and dear to Crazifornia’s heart – and the subject of much of my upcoming book’s chapter on the Coastal Commission – due to the plight of the good people of the North Coast town of Gualala (pictured), whose Fourth of July fireworks show was blasted out of existence by the Coastal Commission. Here are some posts you can check out for more on the story:

From Cheat-Seeking Missiles:  Coastal Commission Attempting to Ban Fourth of July Fireworks

From The Daily Caller:  The Queen of the Coastal Star Chamber

The bill is not yet posted on California’s LegInfo site, but it should be soon, and I’ll update this with a link when it does.  A fact sheet on the bill summarizes the issue as:

Broad interpretation of environmental regulation law has defined fireworks as “development” which has expanded regulators authority to require permits or licenses in order to display fireworks. This interpretation has applied particularly to coastal communities. These regulations threaten the ability of local municipalities along the coast to provide this public service to both their communities and the state.

In order for Californian’s to celebrate the great independence of this country and continue with traditions that previous generations have enjoyed, it is necessary that the ability of public entities to put on such firework displays is protected.

These shows are a cultural event that are enjoyed by many Californians and also provide an economic benefit for the municipalities that display them.

Assemblywoman Harkey also sent me a sample support letter.  Please help her in this important effort (which faces a bleak future in the Dem-dominated legislature) by getting folks in your neck of the woods to support it.  Here’s the sample letter:

Dear Assemblywoman Harkey,

On behalf of the (INSERT NAME OF YOUR ORGANIZATION) I am writing to express support for Assembly Bill 206, which will provide an exemption for municipal firework shows from the California Environment Quality Act and California Coastal Act.

In 2008, the Gualala Festivals Committee received a cease-and-desist order from the California Coastal Commission for discharging fireworks without first receiving a coastal development permit. The Coastal Commission determined fireworks caused an increase in nest abandonment.

This action was confirmed by a court, setting a dangerous precedent in which “development” was deemed to encompass the discharging of fireworks as described in the California Coastal Act because the displays deposited spent materials into coastal waters.

Fireworks shows are an inexpensive way for families and the community to celebrate the independence of this country. Previous generations in California have enjoyed these shows without burden of a government agency standing in the way of a long celebrated tradition.

In addition, these shows provide an economic benefit for the municipalities that display them. As a coastal community this issue is especially significant to the citizens of (INSERT NAME OF YOUR CITY OR ORGANIZATION).

Environmental protection is important, but a line should be drawn to ensure the preservation of long held traditions that provide enjoyment, foster patriotism and stimulate our coastal economies.

(INSERT NAME OR ORGANIZATION) stands in support with AB 206 for the above mentioned reasons.