You may not like Jerry Brown’s politics at times but he has proven once again he’s not a political hack.
Consider what he did - and didn’t do - late Sunday night as the clock was running down on putting his John Hancock as “yea” or “nay” on proposed laws that passed the California Legislature. Once the stroke of midnight arrived and if he did nothing the bills would have automatically become law.
• vetoed the Trust Act that would have limited local law enforcement’s ability to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
• signed legislation that allows the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue drivers licenses to illegal immigrants eligible for work permits under the Obama administration policy regarding those 25 and under who meet certain qualifications.
• vetoed a domestic workers rights bill addressing overtime and meal breaks for some 200,000 people who serve as caregivers, nannies, and house cleaners in California.
With the Trust Act veto Brown made it clear that a carte blanche approach to prohibiting illegals detained by local law enforcement from being turned over to Immigrations & Custom Enforcement was not OK.
It is a clear middle ground that Brown laid down back when he was Attorney General. There is a legitimate concern that Trust Act provisions would not consider those illegals arrested for drug crimes, robberies, using children to sell drugs, stealing weapons or gang involvement serious enough to lump with felonies such as murder as grounds to involve ICE. Even offenses such as child abuse may not be included in the Trust Act’s language of crimes that are OK for local law enforcement to cooperate with ICE.
Brown has even offered to work with the legislature to clean up what he aptly called “serious flaws”. That may not make some happyy who believe every illegal detained should be turned over but it is a much more pragmatic approach. It also underscores what we need more of which is less legislation riddled with holes that are open to interpretation by special interests that will use it to further their cause beyond the original intent of the lawmakers.
You may not be wild about illegals of any type getting driver’s licenses but the legislation Brown signed are for those young illegals who are going through the process to become legitimate by paying for processing to obtain what is essentially a green card to seek employment legally. Again, it is a pragmatic approach.
The domestic workers legislation is even more problematic as it would raise health costs on the disabled and elderly not to mention a $200 million or so annual hit the state would take for In-House Supportive Service workers.
That’s not saying that domestic workers don’t deserve better safeguards. They were the only category of workers - besides agricultural laborers - specifically excluded from the 1935 National Labor relations Act that established fundamental labor protections.
But then why exclude caregivers for the developmentally disabled? Also if babysitters under 18 are excluded does that mean babysitters over 18 are included?
The measure also has workers’ compensation ramifications by easing the requirements. That in turn could send costs skyrocketing. And how do you enforce such a law where private individuals employ caregivers and not businesses?
Brown also expressed concern that such a move would greatly reduce the ranks of caregivers by prompting people to shed them to avoid increases in costs and expensive workers compensation insurance.
Ideally, there needs to be a way to improve the lot of caregivers without essentially putting their services out of the financial reach of those who need them. Again, a lot of detail isn’t spelled out such as whether the rules would extend to part-time workers such as babysitters.
Leaving details like that up to the bureaucracy can be downright dangerous.
Too often politicians push legislation through to meet what they perceive are noble goals while showing little concern for details or how it is going to be enforced.
The devil, they say, is in the details.
We need fewer politicians blindly adopting stimulus packages and such and then a day or so later saying they had no idea that “such and such” was in the legislation they approved.
That’s one of the reasons why this nation’s founders sought it wise to have two houses of legislators checking each other while reserving specific authority to the executive branch to serve as a balance along with the court system.
When well-intentioned but sloppy work is done by one, then it is the duty of the other branches to make things right.
Brown is certainly doing that.
This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209-249-3519.