As usual, the California Legislature went berserk in the final days of its latest session, at the end voting up or down on literally hundreds of bills (think of that: hundreds), most of which would make life tougher for Californians and weaken the economy -- which would also be tougher on state residents, particularly those at the low end of the economic scale.
One of the bills which would make life tougher for rural Californians, especially those who sell ammunition to hunters and rent those hunters cabins and the like during the season, or who operate other small businesses in the hinterlands who depend on hunters and fishermen (or women) for their livelihood is AB711. A Democrat from Lakewood, Assemblyman Anthony Rendon (whom we suspect knows less than zero about hunting and fishing) sponsored the bill, which passed both the state Senate and Assembly in the hours leading up to adjournment, reads, "Requires the use of nonlead ammunition" for hunting. Backers say leaded ammunition left on the ground can be ingested by wildlife, which poisons them.
But critics, wiser in this instance, say the bill effectively would ban hunting because "nonleaded" ammunition is much more powerful and already is banned in the form of "armor piercing" or "cop killer," bullets. As we said, banning hunting would have a terrible effect on those small businesses who cater to people who buy ammunition to hunt game, because they'd abandon the sport.
The only way to stop the nonsense about lead bullets is for Gov. Jerry Brown to veto the bill. Will he? We doubt it. The only hunting and fishing Jerry does is for votes.
The other bill which caught our eye was Senate Bill 649. It gives prosecutors more discretion to try as misdemeanors, instead of felonies, possession for personal use of "certain controlled substances, including, among others, opiates, opium, opium derivatives, mescaline, peyote, tetrahydrocannabinols and cocaine base."
People accused of drug possession still could face felony charges, but prosecutors would have more leeway to divert offenders into probation and drug rehabilitation programs. According to the bill's author, state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, "Those convicted of a misdemeanor will be spared the lifelong barriers that follow a felony conviction, including obstacles to housing, employment and even public support."
One of the bill's salutary effects is that it would cut crowding of felons in state prisons, which are under federal court order to reduce populations. We know, we know, it's a hot issue right now, but given that the bill would reduce the overall numbers of those behind bars for committing what are essentially victimless crimes, we believe Gov. Brown should sign it.