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California Acts Stoned Over a Rock

California public employees are starting Furlough Fridays again.

The Governor left the state again.

California still doesn't have a budget solution to a $19 billion deficit.

The state Controller is threatening to issue IOUs again.

Don't eat the eggs.

But, hey, the weather is awesome today.

Like children growing up in a war torn country, Californians have become somewhat desensitized to being in a state of constant financial trauma. Ok, it's not anything like children growing up in a war torn country, but you get the idea. Predictions of the apocalypse have become the norm, yet there is no apparent urgency in Sacramento to solve the problem. There are alleged discussions happening in private to solve the deficit and come up with a budget, but, publicly, we hear nothing.

Serpentine
Harry Taylor | Doling Kindersley | Getty Images
Serpentine

So what are legislators actually doing?

Debating whether to change the state rock.

Sounds like they're stoned.

I didn't even know we had a state rock, but it's called the serpentine. I would've thought a gold nugget might be more appropriate. However, the Sacramento Bee reports that a bill seeks to strip the serpentine of its vaunted title. Why? The law's wording may help trial lawyers.

Bee columnist Dan Walters writes that Senate Bill 624 declares that serpentine contains "the deadly mineral chrysotile abestos, a known carcinogen, exposure to which increases the risk of the cancer mesothelioma (and) California has the highest rates of mesotheliona deaths in the nation." Walters says putting a phrase like that into a state law could help those suing for exposure to serpentine. What's more, Walters reports that state Senator Gloria Romero's bill was originally about composting, but she quietly changed its contents after bringing it to the Senate. Serpentine, indeed.

When geologists heard about the bill, they began hurling some verbal stones. "One form of asbestos can sometimes be found in serpentine, they said, but does not pose a cancer threat," writes Walters. Sen. Romero eventually removed the offending language, but she has not stopped her efforts to change rocks.

Hey, excuse me, but we have a $19 billion deficit! Can we get a little action on that? Scary. Halloween-scary. Perhaps if the same attention could be paid to the state's financial crisis, Californians wouldn't feel like Charlie Brown after trick or treating: "I got a rock."

Questions? Comments? Funny Stories? Email funnybusiness@cnbc.com

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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