Tuesday, November 4, 2003
IN MY OPINION (Column)
The Second Annual Nosey Awards
By RAY HAYNES
(The writer represents the 66th Assembly District, which includes portions of western Riverside County and northern San Diego County.)
With all the problems we have in this state, what key issues did the legislative majority tackle? Banning Jello shots and soda on our school campuses. I began the Nosey Awards last year to recognize the most intrusive legislation introduced and pursued in the Legislature. Protecting individual liberty is the most important thing a legislator can do. Exercising power is easy; restraining the exercise of power is hard. Legislators therefore have a tendency to exercise power in strange and intrusive ways. The “Noseys” were designed to call attention to the stupid exercise of power in the California Legislature.
With that in mind, here are this year’s winners:
10. AB 732 (Hancock): Drawing on her personal experiences in the hog farming communities of Berkeley and Oakland within her Assembly District, Loni Hancock has decided that protecting pregnant sows in the manner sanctioned by the American Veterinary Medical Association isn’t good enough. She is now attempting to criminalize farmers who provide anything less than the finest private labor and delivery rooms to their pigs. For good measure (or feel-good measure), she is also trying to criminalize certain veal calf procedures, despite the fact that there isn’t a single full-time veal calving operation in the state that uses the system she wants to ban. I just hope all those pig farms in Berkeley and Oakland don’t target her for sticking her nose into their hog businesses.
9. AB 210 (Nation): Not content with having banned tobacco smoking from every job site, restaurant and bar in California, Assemblyman Nation has now turned the crusade to private homes and the outdoors! AB 210 would prohibit smoking tobacco in your own apartment or condo if it could result in smoke being detected by a sensitive neighbor. It would also prohibit the practice of leaving your home to take a smoke break, as any outdoor smoking that could go in someone else’s window would be declared a “nuisance” and be banned as well. I note that the bill is very particular about tobacco smoke, and says nothing whatsoever about marijuana smoke—perhaps in deference to his Marin and Sonoma County constituents...
8. SB 868 (Dunn): In the truest spirit of the Nosey awards, this bill would specifically allow personal information about when you work and how much you were paid to be made available to union organizers if you are on a public works project. SB 1 prevented business from disclosing this information, but this law requires government to hand it over to unions, who are not prohibited from using it any way they please. I’m confused—why were we worrying about privacy protections again?
7. SB 1009 (Alpert): How much money did you spend on eBay this year? How many books did you buy from Amazon? Have you been purchasing cigarettes from out-of-state Indian reservations? Senator Dede Alpert wants to know, and wants you to tell the government.
6. AB 45 (Simitian): Assemblyman Simitian’s bill would require the use of hands-free devices on cell phones while driving a motor vehicle. This might be good for manufacturers of hands-free devices, but is a questionable imposition on drivers. Attempts to amend the bill to target all dangerous instances of inattentive driving, whether caused by cell phones, eating, reading, shaving, applying make-up, etc. were rejected.
5. AB 202(Corbett): This bill seems to require that pet shops sell birds by the pound-or at least that you mark their weight on the sales receipt. It also requires birds to be weaned before they can be sold by a pet store. To be honest, I didn’t even know parakeets had nipples, much less that they could breastfeed, but you learn something new every day in Sacramento. Sticking the state’s nose into the pet shops’ business earns this bill a spot on this list.
4. AB 1555 (Nakano): Have you ever had a day at the beach ruined by fog or cold wind? By teenagers with their radio playing too loud? By drunks swearing profusely two blankets away? Most of us have. How about by loud boats? Apparently that is a problem for someone, somewhere, because Assemblyman Nakano wants to ban the sale of loud ocean going boats and prevent the operation of loud boats within a mile of the coast. Now if someone could just do something about the dang seagulls, I could enjoy the beach in peace...
3. AB 1657 (Chan): This bill would prohibit manufacturers from professionally packaging alcoholic jello shots and selling them in liquor stores. On the floor, one Assemblymember asked, “What if I accidentally bought these alcoholic jello shots and brought them home to my children and gave them to the kids?”. The obvious answer is that you’d be an idiot. In fact, if government bans legal jello shots, it will lead to back alley, unmarked jello shot manufacturing, increasing the chance of damage to kids...They’ll get my jello shots when they pry them from my cold, inebriated fingers.
2. AB 858 (Goldberg): Sticks and stones may break my bones, but the Minnesota Vikings really offend me with their negative Caucasian stereotype. Actually, I’m just going to have to accept that, because even though this bill will ban other allegedly “racially derogatory or discriminatory school or athletic team names, mascots, or nicknames” from California public schools, it appears to only deal with Native American names, and not white guys who wear dopey hats like the Vikings and Minutemen.
The Winner of the 2003 Nosey Award:
SB 677 (Ortiz): Having failed at her efforts last year to pass a soda tax, the obsessed Senator Deborah Ortiz is back harping on the evils of soda in schools. Nosing into what ought to be the jurisdiction of locally elected school board members and parents, SB 677 will further restrict the time, place and manner in which our children will be allowed to purchase certain drinks on campus. With all the things we ought to be worrying about in our schools, somehow this bill seems to miss the mark. Perhaps she figures if she starts with the nanny-state regulations on children while they’re young, they’ll be less likely to object to stupid, interventionist rules later in their lives when they’re adults.
The Legislature is no longer in session, so you are safe again for now. But I’m sure you can’t wait until next year to see just how nosey the Legislature can get.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company