Legislative Wrap-Up Part 1: Governor Brown Kills Bad Bills

Governor Jerry Brown and I do not see eye-to-eye on many issues. We have contrasting perspectives on what the size and scope of government should be, as well as what needs to be done to help grow small business.  But from time-to-time the Governor can surprise.

Make no mistake, the Governor signed many bad bills into law this year that unnecessarily expand government and places burdens on small businesses, which is a topic I will discuss in the next opinion piece.

Here are a few of the Governor's vetoes that I believe were in the best interests of Californians: 

In light of the recent teacher misconduct cases in Los Angeles public schools, I introduced AB 1221 which will streamline the process to dismiss a bad teacher. To counter act public outcry, the California Teachers Association sponsored Assembly Bill 375 would have made minor reforms to the teacher dismissal process. In many ways this was “fake” reform. To Governor Brown's credit he saw the bill for what it was and vetoed it.

Another bill sponsored by public employee unions was AB 855. This bill would have granted amnesty to a state worker who was absent without leave (AWOL) as long as it was less than five consecutive work days!  In the Governor's veto message he wrote, “This bill makes no sense.”  In the private sector if an employee skipped work for five days without telling their boss, they would be fired.  It should be no different in state government.

Sacramento is dominated by one party rule and they are attempting to control all levers of government by weakening the initiative process to rob the people of their ability to take issues directly to the voters.  AB 857 imposed many unfair burdens on initiative proponents such as requiring that 10 percent of all signatures used to qualify initiative measures be obtained from volunteers. However, unions who are running an initiative that would have exempted them from the bill's requirements.

AB 999 would have required the Department of Corrections to develop a five-year plan to expand the availability of condoms in all California prisons. Thankfully the Governor nixed this idea.

Maybe the most outrageous bill the Governor rightfully vetoed was AB 1401. Its goal was to allow California non-citizen residents to serve on juries. I think the Governor put it best when he wrote in his veto message: Jury service, like voting, is quintessentially a prerogative and responsibility of citizenship. This bill would permit lawful permanent residents who are not citizens to serve on a jury. I don't think that's right.” I believe this proposed legislation was a violation of the constitution and I'm pleased to see that it has been vetoed.

Sometimes the Legislature passes bills targeted to harm a particular business or entity.  SB 131 which tried to extend the statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse to seek restitution for offenses that occurred at a private employer or a non-profit organization. The purpose of the bill was to harm the Catholic Church.  Many believed, including me, that such a change to the law should be applied to everyone.  As we know, too many children have been victimized at the hands of public school employees.  The proponents of the bill did not want it amended to apply to public schools.  I believe all victims of abuse should have the ability to seek justice against their attackers regardless of where the abuse took place.  The Governor did the right thing and vetoed the bill.

If SB 744 had been signed into law, parents of a student who is continuously truant would be given veto power over a school's decision to transfer the student to another school. This piece of legislation would have placed more burdens on local public schools and prevented schools from acting in the best interest of their staff and the general student population.

I'm thankful Governor Brown used common sense and vetoed these really outrageous proposals.  Yet despite these veto victories, our state's one party rule comes at a price.  Californian's pay the highest taxes in the nation and in return receives under-funded schools, inadequate roads and a prison system that is managed by the federal courts.