Jeez-Louise, Nero, No Joke, It’s Time to Ixnay the Iddlefay
Neither the Senate nor the Assembly took any action during their April 15 floor sessions to address California’s estimated $20 billion budget shortfall.
The Senate sent Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger a bill to ban smoking at state parks and beaches.
In the lower house, a ceremony was conducted to commemorate and condemn the Armenian Genocide of 1915 which the Hai call “The Great Crime.”
Included in the ceremony was approval of a non-binding resolution requesting the state Department of Transportation to “erect informational signs on the westbound portion of State Highway Route 60 leading to the Garfield Ave. exit and the eastbound portion of State Highway Route 60 leading to the Garfield Avenue exit, in the County of Los Angeles, directing motorists to the Armenian Genocide Martyrs Monument.”
The monument, erected in 1965, is located in Bicknell Park in Montebello, which is represented by Assemblyman Chuck Calderon, a Democrat.
In presenting the resolution. Assembly Concurrent Resolution 148, Calderon said he grew up among Montebello’s Armenian community and said he has “felt part of this committee” – he meant community – all of his life.
Calderon noted that during his previous stint in the Legislature he carried a bill to include the Armenian Genocide in California’s Kindergarten through Grade 12 history curriculum. Of the monument, Calderon said:
“(It) stands as a beacon for tolerance and a reminder of man’s inhumanity to man.”
Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, an Antioch Democrat, echoed Calderon’s sentiment.
“The truth must be told. The truth must be remembered. Having this designation on Highway 60 … will help us remember that history so it can be avoided again.” (Sic)
Calderon then asked for a moment of silence for the 1.5 million Armenians who suffered “murder, mayhem and violence during World War I.”
After the genocide ceremony concluded, the Assembly, appropriately enough, took up Assembly Concurrent Resolution 82, which was debated April 9 by the Senate.
The resolution, by Assemblyman Isadore Hall, a Los Angeles Democrat, encourages “public education institutions to designate each campus as a ‘Discrimination-Free Zone’ to provide a safe haven from intolerance or discrimination.”
In the Senate, Republicans sought a roll call vote because the resolution encourages that tolerance be extended to “gender identity” and ”sexual orientation.”
The roll call allowed Republicans to either vote against the resolution or, as was the case with most of them, simply be recorded as not voting.
In the Assembly, Curt Hagman, a Diamond Bar Republican, requested a roll call on Hall’s resolution. It was approved 41 to 7 with most Republicans present but not voting.
Also approved was Assembly Concurrent Resolution 46, a resolution by Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, a San Diego Democrat, commending the Girl Scouts on their 98th anniversary, which occurred more than one month ago on March 12.
Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, a Pasadena Democrat, allowed as to how his district had the highest percentage of girls who start as Daisy Scouts – the rung below Brownies – and commended Saldana for recognizing the Girl Scouts’ “98 years of great service to our country.”
Assemblyman Joel Anderson, a La Mesa Republican, regretfully voiced his opposition:
“Many of us would like to support the Girl Scouts and think that it’s a great organization but many of us would like have (the resolution) amended to strike all the sexual orientation language.”
All the sexual orientation language in Saldana’s 15-paragraph, non-binding resolution can be found in the seventh paragraph:
“The Girl Scouts is an organization with a proud history of inclusion and acceptance, and has historically promoted diversity in its membership by accepting all girls and women, regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation, economic background, national origin, disability, or medical condition.”
Republicans sought a roll call vote. The resolution was approved by the 80-member body on a vote of 42 to 4.
But resolutions and ceremonies were not the only order of business for the lower house.
In a showing of bipartisanship, the Assembly unanimously approved AB 1969 by Kevin Jeffries, a Riverside Republican.
(Editor’s Note: Clicking on AB 1969 will link to the most recent version of Jeffries’ bill which includes the March 25 amendments substituting “cemetery” for “cemetary” throughout.)
Jeffries’ measure deals with a vexing local issue involving the Elsinore Valley Cemetery District.
Under existing law, a cemetery district must limit interments to persons who reside in the district, persons who used to live in the district but acquired interment rights before they left, persons who pay property taxes within the district and persons who formerly paid property taxes in the cemetery district but acquired burial rights while paying those property taxes.
Family members of those persons are also eligible.
Fifteen years ago, the Elsinore Valley Cemetery District purchased an adjoining Jewish cemetery. A decline in the local Jewish population led to a decline in the number of interments, precipitating the sale.
The cemetery district uses this site only for burials of members of the local Jewish community.
A rabbi has asked that the area be used for the burial of Jews who live outside the cemetery district, requiring an exemption from current law.
As precedent for such an exemption, Jeffries cites previous legislation granting the Oroville Cemetery District the ability to bury up to 100 non-residents at its cemetery on Feather River Blvd., north of Oro Dam Blvd.
On its 20 “developed” acres, the Elsinore Valley Cemetery District has 7,800 burials, the Assembly Floor analysis of Jefferies’ measure states. There’s still room for an estimated 5,000 plots. Six “undeveloped” acres also remain.
There are 536 plots available in the Jewish section of the cemetery. Allowing residents outside the district to be buried there would be both a “service to neighboring Jewish communities and additional revenue for the (cemetery district),” the analysis concludes.
(Editor’s Note: The Senate and Assembly are weighing changes in internal operations that would reduce the number of bills a lawmaker can introduce by one-third. No restrictions are proposed for resolutions. Since the start of the current two-year legislative session, the 40-member Senate has introduced 41 Senate resolutions, 30 joint resolutions and 97 concurrent resolutions, as of April 8. The 80-member Assembly has introduced 28 House resolutions, 153 concurrent resolutions and 40 joint resolutions.)
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