by Matt Welch
Score one for California Gov. Schwarzenegger for having a sense of humor, anyway.
After TMZ caught first lady Maria Shriver violating the Schwarzenegger-signed law against talking on a cell-phone handset while driving, the Austrian Oak Tweeted: "Thanks for bringing her violations to my attention, @harveylevintmz. There's going to be swift action." KCBS-TV asked the crucial follow-up:
Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear says that by "swift action," the governor means he'll ask his wife not to hold the phone while driving.
The non-haha part of the story, aside from how it provides yet another example that nuisance laws are made to be followed primarily by people who look like criminals, is that Schwarzenegger this week, in the midst of his state's ongoing financial free-fall, signed still another round of largely idiotic laws. A surface-scratching list:
-- An anti-paparrazi law making it "a crime to take and sell unauthorized photos of celebrities in 'personal or familial activity,' and also target[ing] media outlets that purchase those photos, with violators facing fines of up to $50,000."
-- A law requiring gun sellers and ammunition dealers to create and maintain a registry of all paying customers.
-- A law requiring DUI convicts in four counties to install ignition-interlock breathalyzer devices on their cars.
-- The Dogfighting Prevention Act, which "will substantially increase the penalties for spectators caught attending a dogfighting event to up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine."
-- A law prohibiting health insurance company from charging more for women than men.
-- A law increasing the penalties for illegal fishing and poaching to "at least $5,000 and as much as $40,000 with a year in county jail."
-- A law increasing by tenfold the fines for improperly using disabled placards to park in those sweet blue spots.
-- A law allowing football's San Francisco 49ers to ignore the requirement that they solicit competitive construction bids for their new stadium.
-- The Donda West law, making "health checks and a written clearance mandatory before being allowed to undergo plastic surgery in the state of California."
-- A law reinforcing existing regulations that school buses "turn off idling engines within 100 feet of a school."
-- A law creating a new "sustainable" label for seafood, contingent on fishing practices.
-- A law that "increases penalties for charter bus operators who fail to comply with safety and licensing regulations."
-- A law doubling the penalty for boat-abandonment.
I could go on all day–there are hundreds of the things.
by Matt Welch