Jack Ohman

Editorial cartoonist, writer and Joe King’s alter ego

In the California budget, I'm just an unintelligible bill...

06/18/2013 5:36 PM

06/18/2013 6:27 PM

Reading through some budget items - known as "trailer bills" - as we come in for a landing in the 2013 legislative session, I was struck by one very consistent theme.

They're unreadable.

I mean, really unreadable. One of my colleagues suggests they're deliberately written so.

I have a college degree from a state school. I did well enough there. But I am not a lawyer. I did not attend Berkeley or Harvard or Pepperdine. I'm just a schmoe who went to two different public state universities. 

Now, I understand that legislative language is different than, say, English, but I was absolutely aghast. It made me wonder what would happen if these bill writers got their hands on some classic stories.

GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS-- Pursuant to SB 89, Three (3) Ursine Americans jointly offered in camera regulatory opinions determining the relative temperature of liquid, non-fracked, vegetable broths. Appropriates $5,650,000 of general fund monies to study of possible harmful outcomes, remedies.

MOBY DICK--Pursuant to SB 76, piscatorial pursuit of mammalian, littoral-region dwelling, ocean-based organism by uniped predators shall be subject to external review to special Joint Legislative Investigative Committee, mandating consultation to California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS --Pursuant to SB 99, commencing at 12:01 AM on December 25 of any given calendar year henceforth, no residential dwelling with "any stirring creature" (including mice or other rodents) shall be denied a scheduled visit by an agent bearing no less than $500 in bonus items augmenting regular income. Said bonus items must be distributed in a manner that shall be subject to state sales tax.

THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN--Pursuant to SB 86, a joint, multicultural trip shall be undertaken on a flowing, navigable waterway. Dedicates $32,000,000,000 towards tunnel diversion project to assist.

THE GREAT GATSBY --Pursuant to SB 85, an additional tax shall be levied on any individual displaying flagrant and/or excessive consumption up to and including: A) drinking any grape-based carbonated  alcoholic beverage from a slipper, B) the excessive movement of any body parts to music, or C) false or misleading statements regarding past activities (excludes any registered lobbyist representing business or social special interest advocacy entities).

About This Blog

Jack Ohman joined The Sacramento Bee in 2013. He previously worked at the Oregonian, the Detroit Free Press and the Columbus Dispatch. His work is syndicated to more than 200 newspapers by Tribune Media Services. Jack has won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, the Scripps Foundation Award and the national SPJ Award, and he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2012 and the Herblock Prize in 2013. Contact Jack at johman@sacbee.com. Twitter: @JACKOHMAN.


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