6 Exciting Ways California Became More Progressive This Week

The United States Congress might be a gridlocked joke these days, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Look no further than California to see a shining example of what a predominately liberal legislature can accomplish. In the past week alone, state lawmakers – along with an assist from Governor Jerry Brown’s signature – have passed a number of exciting, progressive. Check out what kinds of things the government can achieve without Republican obstruction:

1. Equal Pay for Women

The California Fair Pay Act, which received near-unanimous support from state legislators, is said to be some of the strongest legislation designed to eliminate the wage gap ever passed.

Although the California Equal Pay Act passed nearly 70 years ago, you’d be kidding yourself to say that women are being compensated at the same level as men for similar jobs. This new law actually places the burden on businesses to prove that uneven wages are due to skill or seniority rather than gender.

The law also redefines what kind of work deserves equal pay. While previous laws said equal pay was necessary for “equal work,” the law now states that is true of “substantially similar work.” Since very few jobs are exactly identical, businesses used the previous wording as a loophole to avoid compensating women fairly.

2. Addressing Climate Change With Concrete Steps

When it comes to tackling climate change on a state level, California is taking the lead with “ambitious” new environmental regulations. Expanding on existing standards, California now says it will shift half of its electricity to renewable within 15 years. California will also make it a goal to double the energy efficiency of all buildings (homes and business alike) in the same time frame.

On top of that, the state passed a law requiring the two largest pension funds to divest from coal companies. Considering that these pensions were actually losing money investing in this industry, the decision shouldn’t have been a hard one, but it’s still significant for the state to pull its money from something that pollutes as much as coal.

3. Physician-Assisted Suicide

The newly enacted End of Life Option Act follows in the footsteps of four other states’ “right to die” laws. Doctors can now legally prescribe life-ending drugs to patients who are diagnosed with a terminal illness and have less than six months to live. The law will allow mentally competent people to make the choice to end their lives a little bit early rather than enduring extra weeks of suffering. Although the law is considered controversial in other states, the law has overwhelming public support in California, with 65 percent supporting it and just 28 percent opposing it.

4. Preventing Police Searches Without a Warrant

While police must legally get a warrant for many types of searches, existing laws are woefully inadequate in the digital age. Around the country, officers have been able to access data on your cellphone without a warrant, depriving Americans of their Fourth Amendment rights.

Not anymore in California, though! The California Electronic Communications Privacy Act spells out in no uncertain terms that police must have a warrant before they can help themselves to texts, emails, photos and other data stored on company computers and personal cellphones. Only two other states, Maine and Utah, have similar laws on the books, but hopefully more will follow suit.

5. LGBT Protections

The governor signed three new laws aimed at improving the lives of California’s LGBT citizens. One law mandates that businesses must provide transgender workers with the same benefits they offer to cisgender employees. A second law permits public health agencies to collect information on sexual orientation and gender identity – on a voluntary basis – from the people they serve. The hope is that having this demographic-based data will allow officials to assist LGBT people with health needs that are most important to their community. The third law makes it easier for unmarried parents (including same-sex parents) to automatically be recognized as legal parents to a child when artificial insemination occurs.

6. Eliminating Microbeads

Microbeads, tiny plastic balls, are popular in beauty and hygienic products for their exfoliating properties. Unfortunately, they’re also an environmental burden since they do not biodegrade and wind up polluting waterways and getting ingested by marine life.

Though the U.S. Congress couldn’t gather enough support to ban microbeads from beauty products, California (and Illinois) just did. Beginning in 2020, no products with microbeads can be sold in either state. Given that it would be unnecessarily expensive for companies to make two versions of their products for consumers, there’s a good chance that these states will help to phase out microbeads with or without help from members of the U.S. Congress.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

72 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

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Leanne B.
Leanne B3 years ago

Love good news thanks. But we are not finished in California. We have much more work to do here. Back pats to all who help get stuff passed!

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Janis K.
Janis K3 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

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federico bortoletto

Grazie.

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Paulinha Russell
Paulinha Russell3 years ago

Thank you

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vijay k Bansal
Vijay Bansal3 years ago

Way to go CA.
U got the right direction. But there is a long long way to go.
Keep it up

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Natasha Salgado
Past Member 3 years ago

Way to go Cali!

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Jonathan Harper
Jonathan Harper3 years ago

noted

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Lorraine Andersen
Lorraine A3 years ago

Wow good for california! Lets see the rest of the state follow in their foot steps now.

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