Introduction from FlashReport Publisher Jon Fleischman
This is the 11th year that we have presented for your viewing displeasure the worst pieces of legislation sitting on Governor Brown’s desk. Of course there are a great many bills on the Governor’s desk – most of them worthy of a veto. Thus the task of trying to cull through those bills and single out just the twenty worst is not easy. This year’s list comes to us courtesy of both State Senator John Moorlach and Assemblymember Matt Harper. With appreciation to them both, and with counsel that before you review this list you may want to find some anti-nauseas medication, here is this year’s list of the worst.
The FlashReport Top 25 Bills Worthy Of The Governor’s Veto
As compiled and described by State Senator John Moorlach and Assemblyman Matthew Harper
The headline in the Sacramento Bee on September 1st aptly described the end to this session: “Democrats dominating California Legislature advanced a broad liberal agenda.” Liberal LA Times columnist, George Skelton, also lamented that while the Legislature focused on policies perceived to help the poor, it largely disregarded the middle class and small businesses – basically, most of the state. We say “perceived” because we believe most of the bills that our Democratic colleagues voted for will do little or nothing to assist the poor or the rest of the state. These bills will only increase costs and debts, which will be borne by these hard working taxpayers and their children for decades to come.
Governor Brown has previously shown himself, at times, to be the grown-up in the Capitol by killing bills that, if enacted, would do major damage to the state. Since the Legislature has gone wild with progressive policy prescriptions this year, we hope that he will stay consistent and veto the following bills that are on his desk.
SB 32 (Pavley) & AB 197 (E. Garcia): More Unnecessary Costs to Mandate Greenhouse Gases: We knew the Governor was committed to signing these two bills (which he did on Sept. 8th), but believed they needed some attention on this list. Through ambiguous language, these bills represent an effort to continue the illegal, unconstitutional and uneconomical practice of “cap and trade,” which is failing our state. These bills will result in duplicative, unnecessary and costly regulations on California residents without substantively reducing greenhouse gases here, or anywhere in the world.
SB 1234 (De Leon) – The California Mandated Retirement Plan: While people should save for their post-employment years, government should not be in the business of mandating retirement savings. How will this proposal lead to long-term savings and “secure choice” when it is neither? While it is technically not a “pension” or a defined benefit program, it has been sold as a guaranteed return program with a defined benefit for private workers. We heard the same promises about Social Security 80 years ago and when the politicians figured out they could use those funds for other priorities, it began to unravel. It’s ironic that this defined contribution IRA plan is supported (and will be maintained) by the public employee unions that reject public pension reform proposals.
SB 1146 (Lara) – Restricting Religious Liberty in Higher Education: this bill infringes upon the religious liberties of private post-secondary educational institutions. It is possible for the people of California to live in harmony, enjoying different perspectives without placing scarlet letters on private institutions of higher learning because they simply believe something different from the majority. The Legislature should not infringe on First Amendment freedoms every American citizen is entitled to.
AB 1887 (Low) – State Government Travel Bans: While some may disagree with select policies of another state, implementing a travel ban is juvenile and has the potential to limit innovative policy making or restricting field research. California cannot be a single issue state, or it risks falling behind. Should this law apply to the University of California and California State University systems and their athletic programs?
SB 959 (Lara) – Restrictions on University of California Spending: Increases administrative costs estimated at nearly $90 million a year while denying the UCs the ability to effectively negotiate for the best talent at the best market rate. This bill is an attempt to protect current employees at the expense of the service these UCs are supposed to be providing: an affordable education for their students.
AB 1066 (Gonzalez) More Overtime Pay = Less Agricultural Workers: After flouting the legislative process, this second attempt to eliminate a longstanding exemption and force farmers to pay overtime – as well as apply onerous workers’ regulations – will end up hurting workers when implemented because they are too costly to employers who are trying to deal with the realities of seasonal farming demands. It’s very possible and likely farmers will simply put all their workers on part-time schedules and mechanize their process more, not to mention the increased food prices to the consumer.
AB 1671 (Gomez) – Killing the Whistleblower: It’s not too often we agree with both the American Civil Liberties Union and the LA Times Editorial Board – this bill is bad for whistleblowers. A “messenger” reveals an inconvenient truth and instead of addressing the horrific matter, the Legislature goes after future “messengers.” You can’t make this up.
AB 1843 (M. Stone) – Hiding Applicant’s’ Criminal History from Potential Employers: Severely restricts an employer’s ability to find out about future employees, creating a blinded hire that may be detrimental to them. This bill makes employers vulnerable to blind risks that could lead to compromised business practices or lawsuits and litigation down the road.
SB 654 (Jackson) – Government Dictated Expanded Family Leave: Who should decide on how much time a person takes off for parental leave? The business or government? Mandating employers of 20 or more employees allow employees to take up to 6 weeks of parental leave to bond with a new child is nice in concept but places an undue burden on small businesses and other employees. Perhaps businesses can establish such policies without government coercion?
SB 1107 (Allen) – Forced Public Campaign Financing: The taxpayers should not be funding elections through their tax dollars. As Thomas Jefferson said, “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” In essence, it is wrong to force people to “donate” to a cause or candidate with whom they do not agree. Additionally, giving the government the purse strings enables the slippery slope of government getting overly involved in elections.
AB 1926 (Cooper) – Prevailing Wages for Non-Working Apprentices: This requires payment to an apprentice despite an absence of work. While a few aspects of this bill are palatable, this is another example of pushing things too far. To require these employers to compensate for the travel time will have a negative impact on business and a likely reduction in requests for apprentices.
AB 2153 (C. Garcia) – A Battery of Taxes: Never mind that the Legislature is passing taxes on car owners to fix a problem they didn’t create. This is another onerous cost proposed under the guise of sympathy and guilt. If recycling were automatically good in every circumstance and marketable, then this legislation would not be necessary. California has dealt enough with the lead issue meaning this bill is superfluous, and in fact, may encourage additional poor public policy prescriptions.
AB 2492 (Alejo) – Redevelopment 2.0: This bill recreates redevelopment and makes it easier, with a few simple findings of fact, to declare large swaths of California blighted and subject for taking via eminent domain, and does so without local voter approval.
AB 2748 (Gatto) – The Lawsuit that Never Ends: It is bad policy to prohibit two parties to a settlement from negotiating the release of future claims. There’s a reason current law allows for this practice, and to make an exception for one singular issue is unwarranted. Current law encourages the settlement of these claims. By allowing them to remain open, this bill would create uncertainty making it hard to move forward.
AB 1889 (Mullin) – High-Speed Robbery: This is an attempt to use bond money for the high-speed rail project on “bookend” projects which are not currently capable of accommodating high-speed rail trains. Apparently, what the voters stipulated in Proposition 1A in 2008 were merely suggestions, as the Legislature continues to flout the will of the people.
SB 1000 (Leyva) – Adding Environmental Justice Requirements to General Plans: This is another Sacramento-knows-best mandate on cities and counties for feel-good legislation. Each community is different and a one-size-fits-all approach to zoning is not going to be beneficial.
AB 1550 (Gomez) & AB 2722 (Burke) – Empty Funding Promises to Disadvantaged Communities: The environmental justice warriors are taking cap and trade monies for their own particular hobby-horses, most of which will do nothing more than fill their coffers and create larger government bureaucracies. Bills like these do nothing to deal with or even marginally mitigate the impacts of global warming in impoverished communities. Additionally, the cap and trade revenue stream has been challenged in court as being the result of an illegal tax.
SB 1078 (Jackson) – Eliminate Arbitrators & Increase Court Backlog: Arbitrators already have to disclose potential conflicts to parties before arbitration proceedings begin, and where they come up during, in accordance with established ethical standards. To add more onerous hoops to jump through will discourage use of arbitration at a time when the court dockets are already backed up.
SB 1094 (E. Hernandez) – More Burden to Citizens, but with Union Exemption: There are questions on the constitutionality of this, as the U. S. Supreme Court has struck down a law banning paid signature gatherers. Different states have tried different requirements and have been met with mixed reviews by lower federal courts. Additionally, a similar bill was already vetoed by Governor Brown because five percent would hardly have the effect the author claims to be intending. It’s interesting that Labor “volunteers” can count toward the five percent and they are the sponsor of the bill.
SB 1167 (Mendoza) – Overheating Employers for Hot Workers: This bill is a solution in search of a problem. Employers are already required to prevent hazardous exposure to high indoor temperatures under current law. If indoor heat illness prevention in the workplace is not being adequately addressed, it would appear to be a compliance issue which needs better enforcement. As such, more laws and subsequent regulations will do very little to address heat-induced injuries in the workplace.
SB 1241 (Wieckowski) – More Red Tape for Employment Contracts: This bill is a textbook example of nanny government intruding on the freedom to contract, assuming it knows best. SB 1241 completely ignores many situations where both parties are sophisticated and are individually represented by counsel. However, even with such an exemption, this bill would be overly intrusive to the private sector.
AB 1685 (Gomez) – Heavy Fines for Selling Unapproved Cars: This is another example of California overreacting to an isolated event and giving more power to an unaccountable state bureaucracy. This bill could unwittingly snare and penalize a car owner who brings a car to California which meets federal standards.
SB 1383 (Lara) – Air Pollution Judge, Jury & Executioner: Requiring Air Resources Board (ARB) to approve and implement a comprehensive short-lived climate pollution strategy will only prove to grow into a massive mandate while providing minimal oversight for the ARB. Better yet, this program will only leak into other greenhouse gas reduction programs and further increase the costs of doing business in California.
AB 2792 (Bonta) – Handcuffing Law Enforcement of Illegal Immigrants: This bill places a number of new requirements on local governments and law enforcement regarding interactions with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. For all of the bills this year which created more crimes, it is disingenuous to heap onerous requirements on those trying to enforce the law on those who are here because they are not obeying the law.
AB 2466 (Weber) – County Jail Polling Booths: Allowing convicted felons – who are serving their sentence in county jail – to vote is concerning. The Legislature can have a conversation about restoring felons’ voting rights after they fulfill their sentences, but validating those who have already shown a disregard for the laws of the land by giving them their privilege of political decision-making back to them while they are incarcerated in ridiculous.