From the Government, “Do As We Say, Not As We Do” File

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Government elected officials are proud and often boastful when it comes to making laws that tell the rest of us how to live but legislators many times don’t have to follow the same mandates they require of others. This week, California witnessed the latest entries in the “Do as we say, not as we do” file. 

Under the Capitol Dome, Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks was told the only way she could vote on the legislature’s last work day was to attend the closing legislative session. Wicks is a new mom and the only way she could attend was to bring her tiny infant along. In that same Assembly chamber where Wicks was voting, members were passing SB 1383 and sending it along to the governor. The bill requires small businesses to offer employees mandatory family leave so that the workers can take care of family matters, like caring for a newborn baby, for instance. 

In San Francisco, where small business owners of hair salons and barbershops have been suffering through the pandemic lockdown, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was getting her hair done inside a salon even though San Francisco officials had not yet permitted indoor salons to open. While the congresswoman didn’t participate in setting the rules for hair salons, her good friends in the city and state, including Governor Gavin Newsom, laid out the guidelines for the rest of us, but which, apparently, the Speaker does not have to adhere. 

The Assembly rules allowed special voting procedures to its members because of concerns about the coronavirus. However, new mothers got no break from the Assembly and Wicks was not allowed to vote remotely or by proxy so she had to come to work, even though the legislators were subsequently setting the rules on how small businesses must operate giving people in Wicks’ position time off. 

The California Chamber of Commerce considers SB 1383 a job killer bill. On the CalChamber Job Killers website the bill is described this way: “Significantly burdens small employers by requiring small employers with only five employees to provide eligible employees with 12 weeks of mandatory family leave, which can be taken in increments of 1-2 hours, and threatens these small employers with costly litigation if they make any mistake in implementing this leave.” 

Maybe if the state legislature was considered a small business, it would have saved Buffy Wicks’ daughter a late-night trip to the capitol. But, then government in California is a big business and getting bigger all the time. 

For the record, Pelosi says she was “setup” by the salon owner and the Assembly Speaker, Anthony Rendon, issued an apology to Asseblymember Wicks. 

Judge that as you may, but lawmakers granting themselves privileges common citizens don’t enjoy or setting up different rules for themselves is not a new thing. One example dragged out into the headlines from time to time is the secretive DMV office in Sacramento open to current and retired members of the legislature and congress, legislative staffers and other government employees. I think the most troubling thing about who can enjoy this office’s services is that former members of the legislature and congress are still welcome there. 

Foolish me, I thought in being elected they were performing a public service and when finished with their time in office they became ordinary citizens again. 

It’s good to be the lawmakers when you can make regulations for others to live by yet at the same time create separate sets of rules just for you and your colleagues.

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