Petting kangaroos and making shoes

Assemblyman Mike Gipson met a joey as part of Sea World’s Capitol lobby day in June.
Assemblyman Mike Gipson met a joey as part of Sea World’s Capitol lobby day in June.

Assemblyman Mike Gipson is giving new meaning to the Capitol term, “gut and amend,” emphasis on gut.

In the final days of the session, lawmakers are focused on what to do about climate change, how to repair crumbling roads, and what to spend for the care of developmentally disabled people.

Gipson, a freshman Democrat from Los Angeles County, late on Monday gutted a bill related to gambling and amended it with language that would permit the importation of soccer cleats and other products made with kangaroo hides.

Gipson is carrying Assembly Bill 1188 at the request of the Australian government-funded Kangaroo Industries Association of Australia. The bill, which is pending in the state Senate, would take up where legislation by former Sen. Ron Calderon, also an L.A.-area Democrat, ended.

Before being indicted on federal corruption charges, Calderon pushed legislation that allowed for the importation of kangaroo products by temporarily exempting them from a ban signed into law in 1971 by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan.

As The Bee’s Jeremy B. White wrote, the Australian government disclosed that it funneled $143,000 Australian dollars to the kangaroo association to “retain market access to California.” The Kangaroo Industries Association hired the venerable lobbying firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.

Mike Gipson takes up where Sen. Ron Calderon left off, pushing to allow the importation of kangaroo parts.

The Australian government and kangaroo association said kangaroo products are important to that nation’s economy and that they are properly managing the animals, a claim disputed by the Humane Society of United States’ Sacramento lobbyist Jennifer Fearing, who seeks to preserve the kangaroo ban.

Gipson defended his bill, saying in a statement that retailers would be placed at a disadvantage if California is the only state that bans kangaroo products.

We don’t cast judgment on the stalking, slaughter, gutting, skinning and sale of kangaroos, although joeys are awfully cute, as Gipson saw when he petted one in the Capitol earlier this year. We no longer hold it against the Aussies that they assaulted our ears with “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport.”

But if Gipson believes in the economic significance of the kangaroo trade, he should make that case in the regular course of legislative business, and not gut the process like some hapless marsupial with a marketable hide.