What Happened to the “Grown-Up in the Room”?
During his second tenure as governor, Jerry Brown has often been called the “grown-up” in the room when forging consensus on major policy issues like spending and public pensions.
This has especially been the case comparing Gov. Brown to the extreme progressive left that make up a good chunk of the California Legislature.
Now that bill signing period is over, many Californians are asking – what happened to that grown-up? Looking at some of the far-out – and in some cases, dangerous – proposals he signed into law, one wonders if flashes of Gov. Moonbeam has returned.
Here are few of the governor’s questionable actions in his final bill signing period:
- More Leniency for Dangerous Criminals: The real story of Gov. Brown’s second stint as governor is his turn away from the tough on crime public safety protections he supported and enforced as Attorney General, and toward policies like realignment and Props. 47 and 57 that don’t hold serious and repeat criminals accountable.On Sunday, Brown went further by signing SB 1391 into law which will take away the ability of prosecutors to try defendants under the age of 16 as adults. Brown argued in his signing message that he was signing the bill to create “a society which at least attempts to reform the youngest offenders before consigning them to adult prisons.”
Victoria Hurd, whose parents were brutally murdered by a then 15-year-old, said of the bill that, “we don’t want any violent murderers released back into our communities.” She and other victims argue that the bill will result in 14- and 15-year-olds who commit murder, rape, kidnapping, or other serious crimes to be sent to juvenile justice facilities, where they could be turned loose before long given Brown’s efforts to increase leniency toward juvenile offenders.
- The New California-Only Internet Regulation Scheme: In the latest example of California “resisting,” Gov. Brown gave in to the demands of Nancy Pelosi and left-wing activists by signing SB 822, which establishes a California-only Internet regulation scheme.Passed in the wake of the Federal Communications Commission repealing the so-called “net neutrality” policy, PRI’s Kerry Jackson has written that “what net neutrality really means is government control of the Internet.“The Web isn’t ‘open’ if politicians and rule-making bureaucrats are intruding on private activities,” he concluded.
Immediately upon its being signed, the Trump Administration sued California in federal court. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in statement that, “once again, the California Legislature has enacted an extreme and illegal state law attempting to frustrate federal policy.” Look for the Trump administration to score a win following a long legal battle.
- Government-Mandated Quotas: Brown’s other intriguing bill signing was legislation (SB 826) that mandates publicly-traded companies whose headquarters are in California must have a certain number of women on their corporate boards.Brown admitted in a signing message that his bill is largely a political stunt designed to capitalize on “recent events in Washington.” He even conceded that “serious legal concerns have been raised” about SB 826 and that it contains “potential flaws that indeed may prove fatal to its ultimate implementation.”
As PRI’s President and CEO Sally C. Pipes wrote recently in the Washington Examiner, “every woman elected to a board to meet the requirement will have to live with the stigma of having secured her position by force of law – not the force of her qualifications.”
Brown’s final batch of bill signings and vetoes completes his last bill signing period as governor. Gov. Brown’s press office estimates that he has acted on nearly 20,000 bills over 16 years as governor. As Brown prepared to leave office in January and depart for his beloved Colusa County, many will write about his legacy. Whatever one may think of the job he has done, these three bills certainly do not represent his finest hour.
Tim Anaya is Pacific Research Institute’s communications director.