In response to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s proposal to rescind an Obama-era schools directive on sexual assault, California legislators voted to write the directive into state law.
And lawmakers also approved a bill that would move up the state’s presidential primary from early June to Super Tuesday in March, forcing candidates to compete in the nation’s most populous state early in the nominating process.
That would probably not have hurt Trump, who was well on his way to clinching the Republican nomination by Super Tuesday. But it would likely have helped Hillary Clinton shake off Bernie Sanders much earlier in the Democratic campaign and made her a stronger candidate in November.
One other thing: California approved legislation to require manufacturers to disclose the ingredients in home and commercial cleaning products. This, as the Trump administration seeks to unravel Obama’s rules on protecting the environment, especially when it comes to oil and coal production.
These measures may not all become law, but Gov. Jerry Brown — himself a candidate for president three times over — on Sunday remarked on Trump supporters in the context of Trump’s hard line (and potentially apocalyptic) stance toward nuclear North Korea.
“You should check out the derivation of ‘Trump-ite’ and ‘troglodyte,’ because they both refer to people who dwell in deep, dark caves,” Brown reportedly said.
California is not the only state to fight back against the Trump administration.
Hawaii state Rep. Chris Lee, for example, introduced a bill that would require presidential candidates to disclose their federal income tax returns in order to appear on Hawaii’s ballot. (It died.)
Hawaii has helped lead the charge in combatting Trump’s travel ban and aligned the state with the Paris accord on mitigating climate change.
And we’ve committed to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.
In fact, Gov David Ige is in New York this week for an international summit hosted by The Climate Group. It’s described by the Ige administration as “the first international climate conference” in the United States since Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. Brown is there, too.
But California is clearly the leader of the Trump resistance movement and perhaps the greenest, most progressive state in the union. It makes me wish Hawaii would assert itself more on the national and international stage
I asked the folks in the newsroom, a number of whom have lived and worked in Cali over the years, for other things the state does well (and to suggest where we could do better):
It has a supremely powerful Coastal Commission, a quasi-judicial agency that oversees development (or lack thereof) along its 1,100-mile coastline.
It is one of 49 states that has a statewide police officer standards and training board. I bet you can guess the only state that doesn’t.
It has the country’s most ambitious carbon reduction program — essentially the country’s only cap-and-trade system — and has long been a national leader on issues such as auto emissions.
It has an entire department dedicated to agricultural pesticide regulation that collects data on what pesticides are applied, where, by whom and in what amounts. California also funds studies on the impacts of pesticide applications on communities and establishes regulations that go above and beyond federal Environmental Protection Agency standards.
Cities that need affordable housing like San Jose have established and defended inclusionary zoning rules that Honolulu is only now considering.
Hawaii courts often adopt California law because the case law here is undeveloped.
California has a far more professional governmental staff in terms of analyzing legislation and policy, and it is nonpartisan.
Public universities in California play a leading role in political and social activism, whereas Hawaii doesn’t really have an academy-driven protest scene.
Los Angeles is actually expanding its subway system, and people actually use it.
Many California cities are also far more bike-friendly than Honolulu, including hilly San Francisco.
I realize that California has a lot more people and money than Hawaii, and that it is the sixth-largest economy in the world. (It just surpassed France.)
We just can’t compete at that level, of course. There are also a lot of characteristics about California that should give us serious pause.
For example, it has referendum, initiative and recall at the state level, which can lead to places it should not go (such as severe limits on property taxes and a three-strikes law).
Though one party dominates (Democrats), the state has been called ungovernable, and there are those pushing various secession movements (for example the so-called “state of Jefferson,” which would include parts of northern California and southern Oregon.
It is also home to no less than 79 hate groups, as defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center. They include the Pacific Coast Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the Golden State Skinheads and Bare Naked Islam.
Hawaii has zero hate groups, according to the center.
There are also deadly earthquakes, serial killers and arch-conservative Congressman Darrell Issa in California.
But, on balance, it is often a model for other states. (It also has good Mexican food, Trader Joe’s, professional sports teams and In-N-Out Burger.)
Sorry, internet trolls, I’m not moving there. But Hawaii can learn much from where California has fallen short, and where it excels.
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