The first day for California lawmakers to introduce bills in the new two-year session was Dec. 3, the day they took their oaths. The Legislature then immediately recessed for the holidays and did not reconvene until this week, but through December the desk remained open for bills to be submitted, and there are now hundreds that will be scheduled for hearing, examined by the Legislative Analyst's Office, or quietly killed by Assembly or Senate leadership.
There are, of course, always some new challenges that require new policies. But lawmakers spend too much time pushing unnecessary or counterproductive legislation that is introduced to curry favor with special interests or to respond to a sensational headline. One of the worthy goals of Proposition 31, which was defeated in November, was to encourage the Legislature to spend more of its time on oversight of the state bureaucracy and less time churning out bills.
But no simple line can be drawn ahead of time between carefully crafted policy updates and gratuitouslegislative responses to the latest viral outrage. Take, for example, the lawmakers who responded immediately to Wednesday's ruling by California's 2nd District Court of Appeal that a man impersonating a woman's boyfriend could not be convicted of rape.