A passel of new laws and regulations, disgorged by the California legislature, went into effect on New Year’s Day.

Our focus is not on the most flagrant anti-smoker law passed by a body whose hatred of smokers is pathological but is instead on the sheer number that this hyperactive legislature cranks out each and every year. The legislature, consisting of the assembly and senate, cranked out 964 bills last year that create new laws or regulations or beef up existing codes. The governor signed 78% of the bills into law, meaning that Californians now have 750 new or "improved" laws.

None of those laws address the huge budget deficit, which is now over $14 billion and growing. Many of them in fact will increase the deficit either directly or through the law of unintended consequences that the governing class never, ever foresees. None will improve the educational system, one of the most expensive in the nation, which yet produces results similar to those of the lowest-rated states of Mississippi and Louisiana. None will address the flight of the middle class and well-paying jobs from the state.

In short the full-time legislature has not performed as the residents of the state would wish. With nine months of full-time legislative sessions that could be used to solve California’s massive problems the legislators prefer to waste their time pursuing the trivial and far too often the personal.

For instance Senator Jenny Oropeza, D-Long Beach, was successful in criminalizing parents who smoke in their own cars if children are present. Obviously unable to present any evidence that secondhand smoke is harmful, Oropeza’s heavy-handed anti-smoking law is justifiable becase she is "a cancer survivor." This version of the law, by the way, is only invoked if the driver is stopped by law enforcement for another driving offense, such as speeding or reckless driving. The fine, in that case, is $100. Needless to say a future legislature will toughen up the law so that the highway patrol will be expected to stop smoking parents even if driving safely. For now, however, smoking parents can safely ignore this ridiculous law.

What Californians want is an end to vanity laws and a serious attempt to fix the broken state. What they will get, sadly, is a perpetual avalanche of laws that no one wants or needs. Until the full-time legislature is made part-time and the politicians kept out of Sacramento except for a couple of weeks a year the number of laws will increase until every last human activity is either regulated or criminalized.



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