Legislative Wrap-Up Part 2: Bad Bills Brown Signed

Many pundits claim Governor Jerry Brown is the “only adult in the room” in the state capitol.  While the governor is generally fiscally conservative, he still leans too far to the left and is too appeasing to special interest groups.

Previously I commended Brown on his vetoes of some of the worst measures approved by the Legislature, but unfortunately the Governor did not use his veto pen enough. He signed several bills to raise your taxes, increase the size of an already-bloated state government and limit your personal freedom.

Here are just a few of the measures that managed to receive the governor's signature:

Thanks to AB 8 California motorists will be paying an extra $275 annually, through 2024 at a total cost of $2.3 billion.  These taxes will be paying for such things as a “Hydrogen Highway” to build 100 hydrogen stations throughout California.  This is an example of Big Business and regulators getting the Legislature to transfer the cost of a program, which should be privately funded, onto the taxpayers.

No one has been hit harder by the “Great Recession” than small businesses.  We need to do all we can to help small business, since these entrepreneurs are responsible for creating two out of every three jobs.  The governor signed AB 10, which will raise the minimum wage up to $10 per hour by 2016.  While it may sound like a no brainer, job-killing mandates like this one actually result in fewer people being hired and more employers leaving the state.  Instead of passing new mandates, the Legislature should focus on creating a jobs climate that encourages investment.

AB 60 will allow undocumented immigrants to receive driver's licenses.  While I encourage all motorists to be trained, licensed and insured, a driver's license is a privilege of citizenship.  Giving out driver licenses to non-residents disrespects the sacrifices of our nation's legal immigrants have made to achieve the American Dream.

A bill I'm still shaking my head about is AB 752.  Under this measure, inmates have the opportunity to leave county jail to participate in an education and employment “work furlough” programs.  This bill expands program eligibility for convicted felons who were place in county jail instead of prisons due to realignment. The “work furlough” program requirements are vague and babysitting one's own children or attending a yoga class would count as “employment” and lead to a reduction of their sentence because of “good time credits” they earned. 

Most employers think it's important to know if their potential employees have a criminal record, but apparently the state of California doesn't care. AB 218 will prohibit government agencies from asking about criminal convictions during the hiring process until after determining their minimum employment requirements.  Hiring managers should have no limitation on reviewing one's criminal record, especially when hiring for positions dealing with sensitive information. 

The opportunity to participate in the election process is a right reserved for United States citizens. AB 817 changes current law to allow up to five legal residents who are not eligible to vote, to work and manage election polling places. This means foreign citizens and teenagers who have no experience in voting and are not legally allowed to vote will be responsible for running our elections.

This last session saw a full assault on Californian's Second Amendment rights. AB 711 will require the use of non-lead ammunition in California for hunters. First, there is no sound scientific evidence that lead ammunition causes harm to wildlife.  Second, the Fish and Wildlife Department is currently conducting a study on this issue and it would have been prudent to see the conclusions of the study before the Legislature acted.  Third, hunters will be forced to use hallowed-tipped bullets, also known as “cop-killer” bullets because they have the ability to pierce armor.  I believe the purpose of this legislation is to establish a de-facto ban on hunting. 

We need to bring common sense back to Sacramento and focus on creating private-sector jobs.  More jobs will mean more revenue so we can adequately fund schools, colleges and roads. This year was a wasted opportunity to improve the lives of California families.  Hopefully, we'll do better next year.