A quote attributed to Mark Twain says, “No man’s life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.” With California’s legislature reconvening this month to complete unfinished business, I wonder what Twain would say about the flurry of bills that lawmakers have sent and may send to Governor Brown.
One such bill is Assembly Constitutional Amendment 8, which would allow local governments to invest in minor wishes like office furniture as opposed to genuine community needs like roads. Even worse, this proposal makes it easier to approve new debt with a vote of just 55 percent of the people rather than the current two-thirds requirement. While incurring new debt for a highway is one thing, it makes no sense to borrow long-term for depreciating items such as desks and chairs. If local governments are allowed to incur debt more easily, who do you think will have to pay the bill? The answer is simple – taxpayers.
This bill is a direct attack on Proposition 13 that has shielded taxpayers from many costly tax increases. Every Democrat in the State Assembly, including those who represent our region, recently voted “yes” to make it easier to remove these protections provided by Prop. 13. It is now pending in the Democrat-controlled State Senate, where its prospects for passage seem likely.
The legislature may also pass emergency measures in a last-minute attempt to prevent the early release of 10,000 dangerous criminals. Californians are already living in fear as a result of the Governor’s public safety realignment law which shifted the responsibility of housing tens of thousands of inmates to overburdened county jails which had to release the same amount of prisoners. The U.S. Supreme Court recently refused to delay a lower court’s order to turn loose even thousands more serious and repeat criminals, so the state must act now to house these criminals instead of releasing more into our communities.
My Republican colleagues and I will continue to fight for reforms to fix the serious flaws with realignment and comply with the demands of the courts. Regardless of how one tries to justify their early release, setting them free has increased crime in our neighborhoods.
We are also continuing to do what we can to make a college education affordable for all students. Despite the promises that Sacramento politicians made in promoting Proposition 30 last year, students still have no guarantee that tuition at our public colleges and universities will not go up in the future. I hope we can uphold the promise to voters and freeze tuition for the seven years that Proposition 30’s tax increases are in effect.
Finally, the Governor just signed Assembly Bill 1266, which will allow students to participate in sex-segregated school programs and use facilities, even showers, consistent with his or her gender identity – regardless of their biological gender. Governor Brown signed this measure into law despite having received thousands of letters from concerned parents urging him to veto it. Many people who wrote to the Governor wrote to me as well, asking the state to not impose the social values of the most liberal politicians into our classrooms. Our schools must show respect for students struggling with their gender identity, but a “one-size-fits-all” standard is not the answer for an issue better left to local educators and parents. For a Governor who likes to talk about local control, his signing of Assembly Bill 1266 was very disappointing.
Even at a time when Democrats have a supermajority, Republicans have been able to stop some bad legislation such as job-killer measures that would make it harder to create new jobs. By staying united, we can be a powerful voice for taxpayers who feel that government has become too big and unaccountable. It is what we will continue to do as the 2013 session winds down, and what I have vowed to do for the constituents of my district.