News

The Nosey Awards: A quirky look at the 2005 legislative year’s oddest, and most intrusive bills

In my 13 years in the Legislature, I have noticed the historic trend of
legislators who have nothing better to do than introduce legislation that
tells others what to do. Legislators have a tendency to exercise power in
strange and intrusive ways. To commemorate, I will attempt to recognize and
reward those that have created new and imaginative ways for government to
put its “nose” into our business and lives. The “Nosey Awards” were designed
to call attention to the irresponsible exercise of power in the California
Legislature.

The winner of this year’s Fourth Annual Nosey Award is Assembly Member Paul
Koretz, D-West Hollywood. Mr. Koretz authored AB1677, the Correctional
Condoms Act. AB 1677 provides for the legalization of, and distribution of
contraband in our state’s correctional facilities, by allowing the free
distribution of condoms and dental dams to inmates (Just what is a dental
dam?). With the understanding that sex between inmates is a crime, this
bill’s stated purpose is to prevent disease. What this strange bill does
not do, is provide for the disposal of the potentially hundreds of thousands
of used condoms. Who gets stuck with that job? Would our correctional peace
officers be relegated to the duties of a peep show custodian?

Inmates often indulge in a practice known as “gassing,” which is the act of
using their own bodily fluids as a weapon. An Officer may be exposed to
inmates’ blood, urine, feces and semen as an inherent job hazard. Now, with
a condom, the inmates have a “water balloon” delivery system.

There were many runners up, and there are probably some that I missed, with
the plethora of strange bills. Nonetheless, I have put together a list that
includes everything from proposals to tax your garage sales and banning
cosmetic surgery for dogs, to wholesale regulation of plucking eyebrows.

One of my favorite examples is AB 756 (Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, D-Los
Angeles), the Lilliputian Learning Act: Miniaturization is cool. Laptops
are cooler than desktops. Tiny flip phones are cooler than the older, larger
cell phones. Even personal miniaturization in the form of anorexia appears
to be cool—at least if the covers of People and US magazine are a good
barometer. But much like anorexia, the quest for miniaturization can
sometimes be harmful and shortsighted. This bill would prohibit textbooks
longer than 200 pages. But then again, maybe they are on to something – I
might support an amendment to limit all legislation to 2 pages!

Another classic is Koretz’s AB 178, the up-in-smoke, “fire-safe-cigarettes”
bill: By adding more harmful chemicals to the ingredients in cigarettes,
which are already rumored to be unhealthy, Mr. Koretz hopes to prevent
smokers from setting themselves on fire. This bill will create yet another
price hike and additional regulations impacting both the manufacturer and
consumer. No word on how it affects “fire-safe medicinal marijuana”.

Killing old people seemed to be quite the water cooler favorite this year
also with AB 651 (Assemblymembers Patty Berg, D-Eureka, and Lloyd Levine,
D-Van Nuys) State Sponsored Suicide: This bill sought to provide a state
sanctioned means of ending ones own life. Rather than using the will of
government to find solutions to things such as healthcare, eldercare and
such, we have now fully surrendered to our legislative demons and have
agreed to just give up. As a well-known actor once proclaimed, “Soylent
Green is people!”

These were just a few of the honorable mentions, to see the rest, please
visit my state website (viewable on my link at www.assembly.ca.gov )
It is my hope that by showing legislators how stupid these nosey bill ideas
are, perhaps they will focus more attention on the fact that our kids are
failing in school, our roads are crumbling, the cost of housing is too high,
and we are running out of gas, electricity and water.

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.


Support for Capitol Weekly is Provided by: