Gray's Viking Funeral

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California's outgoing governor gave his pen-hand a real workout yesterday to beat the midnight deadline for acting on the 282 bills still on his desk. Among the long list of new laws is a ban on ephedra, a requirement for state contractors to recognize their workers' domestic partners, and a $250 fine for throwing objects onto sports fields. Among the few vetoes was a bill that would have waived community college fees for some illegal immigrants.

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  1. But did he grant anybody a pardon?

  2. Towards the end of every year, looking back at all the laws that were passed on a Federal, State, and Local level, I always end up with the same notion. I feel that the only thing to save us from ourselves is to wipe out all laws/legislation back to some distant point ( 1850 perhaps? Just a shot in the dark), and start all over again. The really important laws covering murder and theft will be instated again immediately. The rest of the shit that gets passed every year will get hashed out again, hopefully with a greater understanding of what those BS laws do to our society.

    Every 15-20 years: Rinse, Repeat.

  3. My dad had a good idea–a third house of Congress whose sole responsibility was to repeal laws. So while the other two had to cooperate to pass a law, they could repeal a previous one.

    They’d never run out of work.

  4. Sandy – I like that idea. An “anti-government” branch of government. Give your dad some kudos for thinking outside the box on this one.

    Sick – I also like your idea. This would be similar to zero-based budgeting, where the often problematic practice of looking at “last year’s spending” is replaced by a top-to-bottom, comprehensive, no stone left unturned look at every line item of spending. “Zero-based” legislation. I like that.

  5. Howabout an automatic sunset? All legislation passed is automatically repealed in, say, 5-10 years. If it’s deemed a success or necessary in some way, it can be passed again.

  6. That sunset idea sounds great to me. It would avoid the burden of all these laws going out at once like my original post.

    It always annoys me that we have so many laws on the books that probably wouldn’t get passed again if they were to sunset. Bascailly the legislators just didn’t have much else to do or were pandering to short-termed public knee-jerk outcry. I’ll bet most people wouldn’t want to pass that crusty old legislation again, but it doesn’t bother anyone enough to actually get up and call for its repeal.

  7. a $250 fine for throwing objects onto sports fields.

    There had better be a “hat trick” exemption in this law.

    Mudflap

  8. I like the idea of a third house or sunsets, but probably it would just end up that we’d have another bunch of fast-talkers to keep watch on.

  9. I want a state consitutional amendment that caps the number of words in all of the California laws at 25% of the current number of words in the California code.

    While the state remains above the cap, if the legislature wants to pass a new law, they must first eliminate old laws equal to 110% of the number of words in the new law or else the new law will be inoperative in its entirety.

  10. Sandy,

    Maybe we could set a seperate branch of government tasked with reviewing laws just to make sure they fall within gongressional authority as limited by the constitution. It could serve as a check against government trampling individual rights.

    The challenge would be to keep this branch from becoming to political and too activistic otherwise they would in effect become just another part of the federal law generating machine.

  11. Sandy: I’m not sure, but I think old Bob Heinlein may have beat your dad to the punch in “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress.” Still a good idea though, though I doubt anyone would go for it.

  12. Sandy,

    Maybe we could limit this new branch of government to a 9 member panel, appointed by the president and voted on by the Senate. It might be a good idea if they served for life too.

  13. basically, stmack wants the supreme court?
    What does that do but get rid of laws. Laws outlawing abortion are illegal. Laws outlawing sodomy are illegal. Laws requiring racial preferences are legal, but let’s check it in another 25.

    Maybe when the anti-law branch decides to eliminate a law, it needs a two-house veto-override supermajority to keep the law. (or if it’s the supreme court, maybe we also need a supermajority of the states to ratify this override).

    I think I pushed too hard.

  14. Heinlein? I’ve read that one, but don’t remember that bit…early senility. TAANSTAFL!

    Stmack:
    Very droll, but I think what our fine old friend was trying to say is that over and above determining constitutional muster for laws (and don’t forget that most of SCOTUS’s activism comes in deciding interpretations of law and other federal court cases against the constitution, not the actual striking down of laws), we need a political way to remove laws.

    The problem, of course, would be that such a process would not be the nice economy-neutral across-the-board reductions in regulation that would be ideal. They would be politically motivated for clients with the most money to throw at a law.

    Still, fighting over what to trim out of government is better than fighting over what fat to stuff down the pork barrel.

  15. One of Missouri’s officials (Karen McCarthy) is up for re-election. One “criticism” voiced by an opponent is that “she hasn’t sponsored any new laws.” I think it important to eliminate this mindset — that elected reps aren’t doing their “job” if they aren’t creating more laws. (BTW, McCarthy needs to go for a variety of reasons, but not this one.)

  16. amr,

    Basicailly what StMack wants is a Supreme Court that does its job based on the Consitution.

    The point I was trying to make is that this function already exists within the structure of the federal government. That it doesn’t seem to work properly is a matter for another thread. However, creating another level of government to do what an existing layer is supposed to be doing, but isn’t, hardly seems a sensible way to limit the scope of government. I just can’t buy the proposition that the best way to make government smaller is to make it bigger.

  17. StMack, the difference is that the Supreme Court (is supposed to) reviews laws based on Constitutionality. Not whether the law needs to be around, or whether people like it. I think the difference would be that while the SCOTUS would keep limits on the power of the government in an absolute sense (defining the boundaries of Constitutionality), this other branch would nullify laws that are within those boundaries but shown to be bad law, or unnecessary, or having unintended consequences that make them not worth having. I see 2 significantly different functions there.

    None of that would happen, tho. Oh well.

  18. Highway,

    If SCOTUS fulfilled its role of interpreting law based on the Constitution rather than trying to judicially re-write both, there would be less bad law to be revoked. As for another body responsible for seeing that stupid but Constitutionally permissable laws don’t get passed or are overturned, that already exists and we call them VOTERS.

    I stand by my statement that the proposition of making government smaller by making it bigger is not resonable.

  19. The preference built into our judicial system is to find a way of interpretig the law as constitutional, failing that to remove the smallest part of the law that makes it unconstitutional, it is only as a last resort that a court will find an entire law unconstitutional.

    Why?

    Because we have a government based upon three branches. Ultimately the Court wants to approve the Legislative branch where laws are made because if you don’t like the Legislation you can replace your Legislators. You can’t replace the Court by voting, they are appointed.

    If you can’t replace your legislator, the majority of your fellow citizens don’t agree with you and you had better learn to live with it or better yet try and argue them to your point of view.

    This is 6th grade civics. I think some of the posters must have been playing hooky that day.

  20. Neve missed a Civics class. Have no problem with the concept of judicial review as you outlined it. Have a strong dislike for activist judges legislating from the bench. Have a really really strong dislike of justices who argue that foreign custom and precedent should superceed the constitution.

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