California Senate business freezes over ‘hell’

We should encourage lawmakers to embark on other benign silliness.

As if there wasn’t enough to wrangle over in the California Legislature some lawmakers put other business aside recently to focus on a specific emotional issue.

The looming budget deficit? No. The need enforced by threats from a federal court to expand prison capacity? No. Is it an effort to address our transportation woes? "Hell" no.

The flap was over the use of the word "hell" on the Senate floor.

During a debate this month over one of the numerous Nanny State bills percolating in the Capitol Sen. Tom McClintock R-Thousand Oaks asked a colleague with a new plan to control citizens’ lives "Who the hell are you" to impose your lifestyle choices on others.

Sacramento Democrat Darrell Steinberg’s bill would require the state to adopt regional transportation plans that encourage more urban housing less suburban development and a decrease in traffic.

McClintock later said he meant no insult to Steinberg. Rather he said he was objecting to "the authoritarian policy of this bill that would dictate that all Californians live in dense urban centers and (that) our only transportation policy is to produce that result."

Several sensitive senators became discomfited and began to wring their hands over the use of what they perceived to be "profane" and impolite language on the floor of the Senate.

However the parliamentarian ruled McClintock’s remarks were not profane. And as McClintock pointed out if the word "hell" is good enough for church why should it be banned in the Senate?

Nevertheless in a Legislature that has been preoccupied with such issues as banning parents from spanking their children this language issue will no doubt draw a great deal of time and attention from lawmakers.

As taxpayer advocates we are much less concerned about the use of the word "hell" on the Senate floor than we are about the multitude of profanities that emanate from legislators in both sides of the Capitol.

These profanities are the scores of introduced bills that increase the burden on already beleaguered taxpayers. Some of these are designed to directly raise taxes fees and charges that the public must pay. Others provide an indirect levy by dictating how and what people can drive how they light their homes and generally how they conduct their lives.

However perhaps McClintock is showing us how to put a halt to or at least slow government intrusion into our lives. By sidetracking our big government Legislature into debating and posturing over such piffle as the use of the word "hell" Tom has effectively tied up in knots the entire body of big-spending nannies. What we need is more such irrelevant issues to be endlessly discussed by our elected officials. This is a good thing!

Let’s encourage more such nonsense. For instance lawmakers should be urged to reconsider Assemblywoman Sally Lieber’s ban on spanking.

This should keep them busy for several weeks.

Then there is Paris Hilton. Inquiring minds of legislators should be turned to evaluating her problems as a guest of Los Angeles County her treatment by the justice system and the press and all the associated "fairness" issues.

The Legislature’s compulsion to continuously designate all the days weeks and months as special — issuing proclamations honoring just about everybody and everything — is hands-down the most harmless activity they do. Perhaps they should be designating each hour!

If these issues are not sufficient to take up the rest of the legislative session just ask us — we’ll come up with more.

Next we need to address the long-term solution to neutralizing these meddling officials. Next year let’s add to the list of check-offs for "good causes" on our income tax forms a box so that each taxpayer can donate a dollar to go toward junkets for elected officials.

Believe us we will more than recoup our investment. By keeping members of the Senate and Assembly traveling full time they will have no time for legislating. That would be a great deal cheaper than maintaining these intrusive busybodies in Sacramento legislating away our freedoms and earnings.

As a 19th century judge once said (with apologies to feminists) "No man’s life liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session."

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association; Richard Rider is chairman of San Diego Tax Fighters.

This column appeared in The Orange County Register on June 19 2007.