It’s not often these days that someone commends the Legislature for doing the right thing, but I’d like to give credit where it’s due.
Like many Californians, I’ve been increasingly turned off by our Legislature’s partisan stand-offs and uncompromising allegiance to special interests. Too often, it seems that whether a bill makes it into law is determined more by the political party of the bill’s author and the financial resources of the bill’s proponents and detractors than by its merits.
This way of doing business in Sacramento has undoubtedly fueled the average citizen’s frustration with elected officials and nourished our apathy toward, and distrust of, the political process.
But every now and then, we’re given reason to be proud of our elected officials. Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge) and Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) supported a bill last year, SB161, which makes it safer for students with epilepsy to attend public school by helping to ensure that they can receive emergency medical assistance if they need it.
The bill would have been a no-brainer for most of us. It made participation 100% voluntary, ensured proper training, protected school employees from liability and wouldn’t raise taxes. Still, the bill was written by a Republican, and two of the state’s most powerful and well-funded unions opposed the bill and launched an aggressive campaign to kill it.
It would have been safer politically for Liu and Gatto to vote no on the bill. But rather than bend under partisan pressure and special-interest threats, they voted to protect kids’ health and their right to attend school.
The bill ultimately passed with strong bi-partisan support and was signed into law by the governor.
Let’s hope that 2012 sees more of this type of leadership.