California is in the midst of a $20-billion deficit and a record 12.5% unemployment rate. The criminal recidivism rate has reached an astounding 70%, and at the same time, Democrats are calling for the early release of prisoners back into our communities. The number of undocumented aliens and associated costs in California continue to soar, yet enforcement of state and federal immigration laws has never been more lax. Fostering job creation and ensuring public safety are among the most critical functions of state government and should be legislative priorities, especially given the dire straits in which California finds itself.
Apparently, more important issues need resolving than the state budget, record unemployment and immigration reform. Case in point is Senate Bill 1317, which would impose a stiff fine and/or send parents to jail for up to a year if their kindergarten through eighth-grader misses too much school. Or take Senate Bill 880, which would impose a fine on skiers and snowboarders younger than 18 for not wearing a proper helmet. Better yet, Senate Bill 1210 would levy an excise tax of a penny per teaspoon of added sugar in soda and other sweetened beverages in order to combat adult and childhood obesity.
Where are the measures that actually address the state's most pressing problems? Probably dead in a legislative committee. I introduced Senate Bill 954, the Jobs Protection Act, which would have required all legislation potentially affecting businesses negatively to undergo an "economic impact report."
Despite the urgency of this measure, support from business and industry leaders, the Democrats in committee postponed hearing it until the next legislative session. Furthermore, I have been an ardent supporter of public safety and adamantly oppose the community-endangering early release of prisoners. In addition, I recently sent a letter to President Obama urging the federal government to abide by the Constitution and enforce existing federal immigration law. Certainly, I am not the only legislator to address these issues, but sadly there is a common result — sound legislation too often goes nowhere.
Indeed, chronic truancy, alpine safety and obesity are legitimate concerns. Given the crisis facing California, however, emphasis on such measures underscores the fact that the Democrat-controlled Legislature has its priorities all wrong. The time is long overdue to realign state objectives. Job creation, public safety and immigration reform ought to be the focus of this Legislature — not truants, helmets and soda.
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