August 20, 2014

EDITORIAL: This is the season for horrible bills in the state Legislature

The waning days of the legislative session are the scariest time of all in California.

The waning days of the legislative session are the scariest time of all in California.

It is when dead legislation comes back to life, good bills are mutilated into monsters and when powerful people embrace crazy ideas to nightmarish ends. Here are three examples of horrific legislation that we urge the governor to stake through the heart should they shamble into his office:

All praise the fearless leader

Reasonable people can agree that the election of Barack Obama as the first African-American president of the United States was historic and a watershed moment for racial equality. Competent teachers would no doubt point that out in American history classes.

But Assembly Member Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, seeks to write that into law with Assembly Bill 1912. No legislative body — not even a school board — should be in the business of telling a teacher exactly how to teach a subject, especially when it comes with partisan overtones. That might be de rigueur in dictatorships where the fearless leader must be praised, but a free country must fight attempts at thought control.

The scarlet letter

Senate Bill 556 is an example of a deceased legislation rising from the grave. This labor-backed bill prohibits private contractors for public agencies from using the logos of the public agencies on vehicles or uniforms (think ambulances and emergency medical technicians) for which they work unless they also wear a disclosure that they are not public employees.

First introduced in 2013, the bill languished until Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima, decided to re-animate it this year. It's not a coincidence that Padilla is running for secretary of state and will need labor's support.

Environmental review hell

The California Environmental Quality Act requirements are so oppressive to development that lawmakers regularly ease them for projects they favor such as stadiums and arenas.

Most people agree that CEQA, while good policy, needs reform. But the kind offered up in Assembly Bill 52 by Assembly Member Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, is not reform that improves the process. This bill would add more hurdles for development by including a new potential environmental impact to be mitigated — whether the project affects the "sacred places" or "cultural resources" of American Indian tribes. The definition is left so open-ended it would add a new layer of anxiety to what is already a horror movie of an environmental review process.


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