California legislators play duck, duck, Modoc 

State government is often funny, but rarely on purpose.

So you can imagine my delight when last Thursday’s Assembly session took a delightful turn during the hazing of new lawmakers. Each freshman member who stood to introduce his or her first bill was peppered with goofy and seemingly good-natured questions followed by an overwhelming “no” vote that was changed to a “yes” vote by members after giving each plebe a few minutes to sweat.

When Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, presented a bill to require prisoners who can afford it to pay copays for jailhouse medical procedures, her colleague Assemblyman Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, asked, “Does your bill also provide for a copay for conjugal visits?” An unidentified member yelled out, “Only if it’s worth it!”

A resolution by Assemblyman Tom Daly, R-Anaheim, to commemorate “Family Business Day” was met with the following question by Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles: “Did you consult Assembly member [Ian] Calderon in drafting this? Because I understand the Calderons believe that this is a family business.” A Calderon brother has served in the Legislature since 1983.

Then Assemblyman Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, introduced a bill to change the date the municipal water directors begin their first term, and mentioned that the bill would eliminate “lame duck” directors.

Demanded Perez, “Where did you go to veterinary school?”

“I think it’s the same place I went to learn politics,” replied Holden.

Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, inquired, “Does you bill also include rubber ducks?”

“Yes, it does.”

Later when Assemblyman Brian Dahle, R-Bieber, stood to announce his bill to allow Modoc County to appoint a registrar of votes, his colleague Assemblyman Don Wagner, R-Irvine, lamented, “This bill doesn’t deal in any way with ducks and it needs to be opposed.”

Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Silver Lake, asked, “Where the heck is Modoc County?”

That might not have been a joke.

Melissa Griffin’s column runs each Thursday and Sunday. She also appears Mondays in “Mornings with Melissa” at  6:45 a.m. on KPIX (Ch. 5). Email her at

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