Our legislators passed hundreds of bills on to Gov. Brown during the final week of this year's session that ended last Friday evening.
One of the surprises was a "right-to-die" bill that stalled in the Assembly Health Committee earlier in the session. It was re-introduced in the special session that was called to deal with funding for MediCal (no solutions were moved to the governor). It was a questionable maneuver and avoided the normal committee process. The bill won approval in the state Senate by a 23-14 vote that was largely along party lines.
Democratic Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis), urged passage, saying (as quoted in the Bay Area Newspaper Group), "By an overwhelmingly majority across all groupsreligious, ethnic, geographic, no matter what age or genderCalifornians want us to act to eliminate the needless pain and prolonged suffering of those who are dying."
The senator can be forgiven for legislative chamber hype, but she reached way too far claiming overwhelming majorities. This bill is one that people of good will can agree to disagree. For those who see nothing beyond life on this earth, ending pain and suffering is a noble goal. It's also an action that removes a loving Heavenly Father from the equation for those of us who believe that God creates all life and is sovereign.
While that bill dealt with a huge issue, the legislature also sent a common-sense bill to the governor that prohibits governing agencies from banning artificial turfa particularly timely bill during these times. One challenge going forward will be maintaining natural green spaces that are important environmentally as well as aesthetically.
One troubling bill is AB 1461 authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) that would automatically registered any eligible citizen to vote when they receive a driver's license. A person would have to actively opt out not to be registeredsomething that is clearly backward.
More voters for the sake of more voters might seem like a reasonable goal, but our state will be served much better if those who cast ballots are well informed. Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, supports the bill and points out that there were 6.6 million citizens who are eligible to vote, but did not register.
There are many easy ways to register to vote. Requiring the registration step demonstrates a citizen's interest and commitment to the democratic process. Just filling the voter rolls with more people does not to ensure people know the issues when they come to polls.
It remains remarkably hypocritical that liberal folks continue to push measures such as this one, while refusing to require photo identification at the polls. There are very few activities you can do without photo ID (get on an airplane, cash a check), yet you can walk up to a polling place and simply sign a name, whether it is yours is not verified.
The governor has a month to consider the pile of legislation that was sent to his desk in the last week.