September 9: Admission Day

Banner - CA SealMonday, September 9th, marks the 163rd anniversary of California’s admission to the union as a state. Formerly a state holiday called “Admission Day”, the day served as an import reminder of California’s early history.

What was most remarkable was that Californians didn’t wait for statehood before establishing the first civil institutions. More than a year before statehood, Californians elected delegates to write a State Constitution, approved the resulting document, and elected a Governor and Legislature to take over from the federally-appointed Military Governor of California.

In one of the most remarkable moments in U.S. history, that Military Governor, Bennett C. Riley, chose to recognize the elected Governor and (without approval from Washington) ended the military occupation of California.

A 2012 proclamation by Governor Jerry Brown noted the importance of the observation;

“The observance of Admission Day was once prominent in the civic life of our state and nation. On September 9, 1924, by order of President Coolidge, the Bear Flag flew over the White House in honor of California’s admission to the Union. In 1976, I vetoed a measure to remove the observance of Admission Day as a state holiday, writing: “For 125 years California has celebrated its admission into the Union on September 9th. To change now comes a bit late in our history and hardly seems in keeping with the Bicentennial Spirit.” In 1984, however, Governor Deukmejian signed legislation eliminating our traditional observance of Admission Day on September 9th in favor of a “personal” holiday—convenient to some but in no way respectful of our storied founding.

“California’s early history is too often neglected in schools and among our citizens. For that reason, I call upon Californians to pause and celebrate Admission Day this year by reflecting on how it was that California became the 31st state.”

Happy Admission Day, everyone!

Updated 9/8/2013 @2:58 PM: Just in case you were wondering, the bill that ended Admission Day was SB 1432 by Robbins. The bill passed 27 to 8 in the State Senate, and 57 to 18 in the Assembly

Beautiful Laws of Earlier Eras

Arthur Ohnimus

Arthur Ohnimus

With all of the thousands of bills introduced in Sacramento each year, one thing that’s missing is the old-fashioned beautiful law. Don’t get me wrong, the good people at Legislative Counsel do a solid job translating the ideas of legislators and staff into well-written bills. What’s missing is the elegance of some of the older laws that conveyed not only legal requirements, but did so in a way that was both clear and inspiring. My favorite example is the old California Education Code Section 13230, as written back in 1943. The nation was at war, and legislators wanted to make it clear to teachers that it was important that their students learn just what it meant to be an American:

California Education Code, Section 13230 (1943)
13230. Each teacher shall endeavor to impress upon the minds of the pupils the principles of morality, truth, justice, and patriotism, to teach them to avoid idleness, profanity, and falsehood, to instruct them in the principles of a free government, and to train them up to a true comprehension of the rights, duties, and dignity of American citizenship.

This section was a complete idea, lacking nothing. But, over the years, legislators felt the need to improve on perfection. The code section was amended a number of time to add phrases about the importance of “encourag[ing] pupils to realize their full potential” and preventing “acts of hate violence”. Today, this code section reads;

California Education Code, Section 233.5 (Current statute since 1998)
233.5.  (a) Each teacher shall endeavor to impress upon the minds of the pupils the principles of morality, truth, justice, patriotism, and a true comprehension of the rights, duties, and dignity of American citizenship, and the meaning of equality and human dignity, including the promotion of harmonious relations, kindness toward domestic pets and the humane treatment of living creatures, to teach them to avoid idleness, profanity, and falsehood, and to instruct them in manners and morals and the principles of a free government.
(b) Each teacher is also encouraged to create and foster an environment that encourages pupils to realize their full potential and that is free from discriminatory attitudes, practices, events, or activities, in order to prevent acts of hate violence, as defined in subdivision (e) of Section 233.

Of course, it wouldn’t be politically correct to revert this law to its original form. Most elected officials are smart enough to realize that they’re not going to score a lot of points by offering a bill that would delete the requirement that teachers encourage their students to treat living creatures in a “humane manner”. Because nobody hates “harmonious relations” and “kindness toward domestic pets”, right? Well, almost nobody.

The Hollingsworth Succession Bill

Dennis Hollingsworth

Dennis Hollingsworth

Monday marks the fifth anniversary of the chaptering of SB 1530 (Hollingsworth), which added the offices of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Insurance Commissioner, and the Chair of the Board of Equalization to the Governor’s line of succession. Through the hard work of three Senate Fellows and an Executive Fellow, this bill added three constitutional officers into line just ahead of the Disaster Acting Governors, of whom only Earl Smittcamp remains. While it

In recognition of this anniversary, we would like to provide you with the full current line of succession to the Governor:

GovernorJerry Brown
Lt. GovernorGavin Newsom
Senate President pro TemporeDarrell Steinberg
Speaker of the AssemblyJohn A. Perez
Secretary of StateDebra Bowen
Attorney GeneralKamala Harris
TreasurerBill Lockyer
ControllerJohn Chiang
Superintendent of Public InstructionTom Torlakson
Insurance CommissionerDave Jones
Chair, Board of EqualizationJerome Horton
Disaster Acting Governor #1 – VACANT (last officeholder died 1999)
Disaster Acting Governor #2 – VACANT (last officeholder died 1970s)
Disaster Acting Governor #3 – VACANT (last officeholder died 1990s)
Disaster Acting Governor #4 – VACANT (last officeholder died 2011)
Disaster Acting Governor #5 – VACANT (last officeholder died 1990s)
Disaster Acting Governor #6Earl S. Smittcamp
Disaster Acting Governor #7 – VACANT (last officeholder died 1970s)

Additionally, the two other people whose offices could potentially allow them into the line of succession are;

Assembly Speaker Pro TemNora Campos (as the successor to the Speaker) and
Vice Chair of the Board of EqualizationMichelle Steel (as the successor to Chairman Horton)