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    More tiresome bills out of Sacramento
    • May 30, 2024

    Instead of working to close a remaining $27 billion budget gap for 2024-25, the Legislature is churning out more unneeded bills. Here are questionable bills passed that have passed their house of origin and await committee assignment in the other house.

    Senate Bill 1047 is by state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco. The title of the bill is needlessly complex. It’s called the Safe and Secure Innovation for Frontier Artificial Intelligence Models Act.

    It would create a new state bureaucracy, the Department of Technology Within the Government Operations Agency. The Senate floor summary explains the bill will require developers to train AI models to “put appropriate safeguards and policies into place to prevent critical harms.”

    Chamber of Progress, a tech company group, warns SB 1047 would force developers to “engage in speculative fiction about imagined threats of machines run amok,” like Skynet in the “Terminator” movies.

    “SB 1047 forces developers operating in the real world to proactively mitigate against every conceivable harm — and many inconceivable ones — not just by the model itself, but subsequent third parties who make use of the model,” the Chamber of Progress explains.

    While we understand the impulse to regulate what appears to be a potentially disruptive technology, we fear the overreach of short-sighted government officials will itself do more harm than good. AI should be approached thoughtfully and with restraint.

    Creating bureaucracies based on hysteria is, on its face, a bad idea.

    Assembly Bill 2236 is by Asm. Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, D-San Ramon. It would eliminate plastic bags in grocery stores by 2026, leaving shoppers with only paper bags or cloth bags brought from home. The author said the bill is needed to fight water pollution from plastics and, as the bags are made from petroleum, “Plastics are the next front in our fight against big oil.”

    The American Recyclable Plastic Bag Alliance says AB 2236 would eliminate “the thick, recyclable plastic bags currently mandated” by state law and “significantly raise costs for working families” by forcing many to switch to more expensive bags, which often still entail the use of plastic.

    Rather than continue to police plastic bags, the state should focus on more substantive problems.

    Senate Bill 961 is also by Sen. Wiener. Starting in 2029, it would mandate, for 50% of all new cars, installing a “passive intelligent speed assistance system” in all new cars sold in the state. It would produce an annoying Big Brother beep if a car drove 10 mph or more above the posted speed limit. The systems would use GPS signals to spy on a car’s location, violating privacy rights. People could just buy non-beeping cars in other states, so the point of the bill isn’t clear beyond making it marginally more annoying to purchase and drive a car in California.

    Assembly Bill 2226 is by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, D-Los Angeles. It would make kindergarten mandatory beginning in 2026. The Assembly Appropriations Committee pegs the cost as “unknown,” but potentially $100 million a year.

    The state ought to improve low test scores in the current educational system before adding new educational mandates. Newsom vetoed a similar bill in 2022 because of the cost. He should do so again if it passes.

    We recommend all these bills be rejected. If they pass, the governor should veto them.

    ​ Orange County Register