To understand middle school is to understand the California Legislature. Aug. 31 marked the last day of this year’s legislative session and the beginning of our elected representatives’ summer break. But before they could sign each other’s yearbooks, rush home to play the latest “Madden NFL 13,” and find their summer love, they had to get something, anything, done. You know, so they wouldn’t get grounded when they got home.
So last week, senators and assembly members alike (may have) put on some smooth jazz, (possibly) lit some scented candles and got busy with the dirty, sexy business of lawmaking. Here at The Daily Aztec’s Opinion section there are few things we love more than law making, be it Democrat-on-Democrat, Republican-on-Republican or even bipartisan. We tried to cover it all for our avid readers, but as a wise animated character on “Futurama” once said, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” What we did manage to do was compile the top five passed bills we think are most relevant to San Diego State’s wonderful populace. Keep in mind these babies are so fresh out of the oven they have yet to be taken to Gov. Jerry Brown, where, if he approves of them, he will spank them to get the breathing going and then sign the soft part of their craniums.
1. AB-472 Controlled substances: overdose: punishment
Don’t be fooled by the whimsical title – this bill is here to save lives. It grants immunity to anyone seeking medical help for a drug overdose. It also protects anyone aiding the person overdosing. Anyone seeking medical help “in good faith” cannot be charged for having controlled substances or related paraphernalia in their possession or for being under the influence of illicit drugs. It won’t protect anyone trying to buy or sell drugs and it doesn’t grant immunity for situations such as driving under the influence.
If this bill is signed, it will hopefully encourage people who have overdosed, as well as those around them, to seek professional medical attention. No more “Pulp Fiction”-esque adrenaline shots to the heart. This is one of those preciously rare undigested kernels of pragmatism the legislature passes through every once in a while, usually when they’ve been eating a lot of fiber. When someone is overdosing, the first priority should be to keep that person alive, not to arrest him or her or anyone else trying to help. Counseling and drug rehabilitation is available, but only if they survive.
San Diego’s former mayoral hopeful and independent media darling Nathan Fletcher voted against this bill.
2. SB-960 California State University: campus-based mandatory fees
In what may be the biggest change to the CSU in decades, this bill will overhaul how individual schools manage fees. To be clear, this only applies to campus-based fees, such as the one we are paying for the construction of the new student center. If this bill is signed, money from existing fees cannot be reallocated without the majority vote from either the student body or a “specified campus fee advisory committee” consisting of mostly students. This is important because some cash-strapped schools have begun taking money from existing campus-based fees to cover institutional costs that should be paid for by the CSU. If schools aren’t able to shuffle funds around willy-nilly, it might reveal shortfalls in funding from the CSU they had previously been able to conceal. Future fees will have to be used exclusively for whatever express reasons they were enacted. This is not the decentralization of CSU power down to the students many people have been waiting for, but it’s a very big step in the right direction.
3. SB-1349 Social media privacy: postsecondary education
Members of the legislature must have really been looking for the youth vote this coming election. SB-1349 is another bill that will give power back to students from all public and private higher education institutions in the state. If this bill is signed, universities and colleges will no longer be able to require students or applicants to disclose their social media information. They cannot punish, threaten to punish or even ask nicely for students’ and potential students’ Facebook accounts. If you don’t think this is a big deal, imagine the grad school of your dreams asking for your Facebook username and password, then rejecting you because of those that-can’t-possibly-be-legal-in-America photos you took in Cancun. Perhaps in the future this bill will expand to include similar restrictions on employers asking for social media information.
However, remember that SDSU, and any other school you attend or apply to, still has your name, email, address and social security number. Nothing is stopping them from looking you up and finding those Cancun pictures – you really should delete those. If you think tallying up how many times you’ve hash tagged #beerpong on Twitter is hard, it’s not.
This bill passed both the Senate and the Assembly unanimously, raising the obvious question of what our representatives are hiding on their social medias.
4. SB-1315 Imitation firearms: regulation: County of Los Angeles
Odds are you haven’t heard about SB-1315 and its sister bill AB-2333 unless you’re a member of California’s airsoft community. If you are, you’ve probably been up in non-lethal imitation arms because of these two laws being hailed by airsoft enthusiasts as attempts to kill their sport. AB-2333 was signed into law last week, imposing a fine of up to $100 dollars for a first-time offence of allowing a minor to take a BB gun without his or her guardian’s consent. SB-1315, on the other hand, allows Los Angeles – where many airsoft gun manufacturers are based – to pass stricter laws regulating the sale, possession and use of imitation guns.
This law doesn’t actually change anything; it simply opens the door for regulations in one city if that city feels like it. What’s interesting about both of these bills is the outrage it has incited in the airsoft community. The legislature is being accused of attempting to regulate a family-friendly hobby that allows children and adults to come together and shoot each other in pretend-wars with impressively realistic toy guns.
5. SB-1172 Sexual orientation change efforts
What may be the most commonsensical bill in this list is also the most controversial. SB-1172 makes it illegal for mental health practitioners to perform sexual orientation change therapy on patients younger than 18 years old. Some parents who are concerned their child may be homosexual use what is known as reparative therapy in an attempt to change them. In an enlightened bit of lawmaking the state of California declares, “Being lesbian, gay or bisexual is not a disease, disorder, illness, deficiency or shortcoming.” Therefore, the state cannot conscientiously allow children to be treated for a disease that does not exist. Especially when that treatment has been proven to cause a myriad of long-term health problems, such as depression and suicidal tendencies (the bill lists at least 23 separate health risks).
The counter claims were to be expected. Some feared this bill violates a parent’s right to do whatever they choose with their child, regardless of the risks. Others claim that there isn’t enough science to disprove reparative therapy. Presumably, we should therefore keep using innocent children as guinea pigs until we have it figured out.