The Legislative Goofball of The Session Award goes to Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, for Senate Bill 432, which mandates that hotels use fitted sheets rather than unfitted sheets on mattresses. Other legislators have promoted more damaging and far-reaching bills, but de León’s ban on unfitted sheets and mandates for long-handled bathroom tools sets the record for utter silliness in a legislative body that already struggles to be taken seriously.
Here is the bill language: “This bill would require the standards board to adopt a standard relating to housekeeping in transient lodging establishments requiring the use of fitted sheets on beds and the use of long-handled tools for cleaning bathrooms.”
A new industry website, www.NOsb432.com, posts this right-on explanation on its fact sheet: “Our economy is struggling. Our budget is perpetually out of balance. Schools, roads, health care and public safety suffer. And the Legislature is focused on … FITTED SHEETS??”
That’s right. SB 432 (de León), would mandate that hotels use fitted sheets, not flat sheets, on all of their mattresses. Why? … Perhaps it’s because the bill’s sponsors, the California Applicants’ Attorneys Association, want a new cause of action to sue.”
This tells you everything you need to know about Sacramento and the nuttiness in the state Capitol.
1. The state is facing serious budgetary and infrastructure problems, and yet legislators think this legislation is worthy of consideration (it passed out of committee before recess).
2. The state recognizes no limits on its power. If it can regulate the type of sheets a business puts on its beds, then what limits are left?
3. The state doesn’t mind creating new classes of criminals. The official language explains that the bill would “create a new crime.”
The state continually creates new laws and regulations and crimes that affect law-abiding citizens, even as it fails to rein in serious crime. Note that police agencies in Oakland and Sacramento for instance have been saying that there are many crimes they will no longer pursue due to budgetary constraints.
4. Laws are promoted in order to help some supposedly helpless group of people, in this case housekeepers. That is paternalistic, but it also is dishonest. The real driving force are the trial lawyers, who advocate for this law and stand to gain financially from it. This is cynical.
5. Democratic leaders have no concern for the impact of their new regulations on businesses and assume that businesses want to hurt their workers. Legislators believe that they know more about any particular industry than the people involved in that industry. They assume business owners are evil profiteers who will willingly harm their workers to extract a few more cents out of them. They assume the regulators who enforce the laws (and receive high salaries, great pensions and many benefits unavailable to others) are selfless defenders of the public good.
This legislation is utter foolishness. “The hotels change their sheet inventory frequently. There will be no added expense,” de León said in a statement. “All we ask is that when the hotels make their next purchase, half of the sheets be fitted. It is a minor action for them but a major benefit to employee health, safety, happiness and productivity.’”
De León is abusing poor people to advance his political career. He is harming the very businesses that hire the people he claims to help. He is undermining individual choices and freedom. He is wasting the Legislature’s time. Mostly, though, he is making a fool out of himself and a mockery of the Senate and the state.
Steven Greenhut is editor of www.calwatchdog.com; write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.