In the last month, while we have been distracted by national events, your California Legislature and state government have been hard at work. Here is what they accomplished:
Senator Ricardo Lara, a Democrat from Bell Gardens, introduced legislation that would repeal the state tax-exempt status of any youth organization that discriminates based on gender identity, sexual orientation or religious affiliation. Known as Senate Bill 323, it is better known as the bill to strip the Boy Scouts of their tax-exempt status. It had its third reading in Committee last week. Will the governor have the guts to veto this bad bill?
The state auditor reported that the state special license plate program, which is meant to provide funds to fight threats of terrorism and provide money for state parks, was misspent. What were the 22 million misspent dollars actually used for? The auditor found that the money was spent on “unallowable or unsupported” expenditures, such as environmental programs, employee compensation and building leases.
Did anyone get fined, demoted or fired over this? Let’s get real. No one ever gets penalized for any wrongdoing at the state level.
There was some good news out of the legislature last month. Two bills by Assemblymen Mike Morrell and Tim Donnelly, Republicans, were introduced in the Assembly that would repeal the fire fee that many of us in Del Norte County were forced to pay to fight fires throughout the state. Naturally, it was later discovered that the money was spent on everything but fighting fires.
The bills passed by a 5-2 vote in the Natural Resources Committee, but they have a long way to go before we are off the hook of being robbed of an extra $150 a year to support the state.
Our state Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro did the right thing by sponsoring a measure to repeal the fire fee and replace it with a 4.8-percent statewide surcharge on all property insurance policies, then he turned around and pulled the bill from consideration.
Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, a Democrat from Sacramento, has introduced Assembly Bill 760 which would impose a 5-cents-a-bullet tax on ammunition sold in California. Now the picture is becoming clearer. The government will not take away our guns, they will make ammunition so expensive that no one will be able to buy any more than a few rounds. Currently there are over 50 bills in the legislature that would restrict our gun rights.
There are some bills that go way beyond stupid and approach insanity, like AB1266 by Tom Ammano, a Democrat representing San Francisco. Its title seems benign enough, “The Pupil rights: sex-segregated school programs and activities bill.”
Existing law requires that participation in a particular physical education activity or sport, if required of pupils of one sex, be available to pupils of each sex. OK, there is nothing wrong with that. However, this bill would require that a pupil be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.
What it means is this: If a boy identifies himself as a girl even though he has male parts, he is allowed to play with the girls on their athletic teams, and other competitions and use the facilities consistent with his gender identity. In other words, he can also use facilities like the girls' bathroom, locker room and shower facilities.
Now you ask, is this legislator so stupid to dream up such a bill, much less presume it would get legislative support? But there it is in black and white. If this were ever to become law, it would put an end to public schools. No parent that I know would ever send their child to a school that would abide by this law.
Unfortunately, it has passed in the Assembly with our Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro voting yes.
At the state capitol, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsroom was hard at work establishing four state-honored foods. In case you missed it, avocados are the state fruit, artichokes are the state vegetable, rice is the state grain and almonds are the state nut. My choice for the state nut is a compilation of the members of the California State Legislature who vote to do stupid things.
Bob Berkowitz is a Crescent City resident.