There are many joys of being a Californian. The price of housing, the price of gas and the price of electricity are just a few. One that is not discussed is how our elected leaders are constantly changing the laws under which we are governed. This is one of the worst aspects of our “independent press” which barely discusses the matter.
It has become custom for California’s full-time legislature to justify their collective existence by feeling compelled to propose a laundry list of new bills to become law. Each member can submit fifty bills in every two-year session. With 120 members, there could be 6,000 bills every session or 3,000 bills annually. It seems that each member attempts to make that “quota.”
The number gets whittled down, but not by much. The amount of bills passed is significant: 2021 – 965 bills; 2022-998; 2023-1046. The Governor gets a hack at them once passed by the Assembly and State Senate, but maybe “hack” is not an appropriate verb here.
In the first year of the session, he has 12 days from passing of the bills to sign them into law or veto. In year two, the governor has 30 days. Newsom signed into law: 2021-890, 2022 – 979, 2023 – 890. A total of 3,009 bills passed in the last three years and Governor Newsom signed 2,759 into law. That is 91.7%, and that is just since 2021.
How do you run a state like this? There becomes a law dysphoria. Residents don’t know what is legal and what is not. While the legislators think they are improving our lives they are making everyone less settled as to the government that controls them.
This deluge of changes to the law and the following of the laws – for those of us who are still law-abiding citizens – is something nobody talks about. While the press was addressing whether the Governor was going to sign or veto the most visible bills, I addressed the issue of the sheer number to Politico. Their daily California summary focused only on which bills they considered newsworthy. “Are you interested in addressing the mass amount of bills passed?” Silence.
A perfect example is the column by George Skelton of the LA Times, one of the deans of columnists covering Sacramento. His column here: https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2023-10-23/skelton-column applauds Newsom for vetoing bills that would have expanded the budget even further. Skelton, like all the others, does not address the huge cost to California residents of the 890 bills that were signed into law and the regulations they produced.
What the press bothered to cover? The State Superintendent of Public Instruction was charged with racism because our schools were disproportionately disciplining students of color. The Superintendent does not look like someone with an axe to grind against people of color as he is black. Wait a minute; the Legislature changed the law on that one.
State Senator Nancy Skinner was behind Senate Bill 274 to end suspension of students for willful defiance in classrooms. She stated, “Since my start in the state Senate in 2016, I’ve worked to end willful defiance suspensions in our public schools.” Notably, she hasn’t done anything in classrooms to actually end willful defiance. That means teachers now have little means of controlling their unruly students. Maybe next session Senator Skinner can do something about that.
This is just one of the many laws that was barely covered. Some are not covered at all. Thus, businesses or individuals remain ignorant about the new laws to which they are subject and can get trapped by not knowing.
Swooping to the rescue are the people who are the second largest group (first are public employee unions) to whom these elected officials are beholden – lawyers. They create little cottage industries to protect innocent people from even further harm. Adding insult to injury, not only must you relearn how things operate, but you must pay homage to lawyers keeping you from fines and recriminations.
A friend who works in D.C. sent me a marketing piece from a national employment law firm. They had twelve California laws they cited as being changed in this last session. If you are running a business with employees, you are clearly sunk if you don’t have one of these hired guns to protect you from your own elected officials. It is certainly possible you need these legal eagles since there are another 878 passed bills that could get you in a world of trouble for not following the new laws.
Readers always like to hear solutions, not just complaints. Numero Uno is to stop electing these self-designated potentates. These are people who think they were elected to micromanage your life because they know better.
That is the problem here – most Californians are unaware of this situation. Trying to get a replacement (new Assembly or Senate member) is a behemoth challenge. Plus, if the replacement is not beholden to the public employee unions and the lawyers it will be ever so much tougher.
You can speak to the official’s office. But since they don’t care (because they don’t have to) that is typically a waste of time.
The solution that more people and businesses are trying – relocation.