During the election back in November, one of the buzzwords being bandied about in local news was talk of the Democrats in state Legislature becoming a "supermajority." This meant that since the Dems laid claim to at least two-thirds of the seats in both the House and the Senate -- the first time this political monopoly occurred in the past 130 years -- they'd be ruling without any checks or balances, turning the Golden State into a bastion of liberalism. (Even more so than it already is.)
"The Republicans just shouldn't come into work until the next election," was a popular sentiment.
Now while this prediction hasn't entirely turned into a reality -- if anything, the Democrat-led Legislature has been surprisingly measured in its passing of new laws, ending this past session without any increases in taxes, or "spending sprees," -- what's been out of the norm is the fact that not every little piece of legislation has been beaten to death by divisive and politically-charged debates on its way to finally getting passed.
Take, for instance: AB 199, the "Choose California Farms First" bill.
It's a law that forces state-run institutions such as schools, prisons, and hospitals to attempt to purchase their agricultural products from California-based farms before being allowed to seek deals over the state line. I last wrote about the bill back in February when it was first introduced, speaking to a whole bunch of small farmers trying to decipher what the possible passage of the bill would mean to them personally. (Spoiler: "Sounds good, but we'll believe it when we see it" was the average sentiment.) And since that day, the bill just hung around outside of the spotlight without a mention.
That is, until last week when it was officially passed and sent to the Governor's office for final approval. Pasadena-based Assemblyman Chris Holden, the bill's author, summarized the benefits of passage thusly:
"This legislation doesn't just benefit farmers; it provides safe, healthy foods for our public schools and hospitals," Holden said. "It just makes sense for California's public institutions to choose locally grown products."
Whether or not that goal becomes a reality remains to be seen, but you can't say the lawmakers in Sacramento are just sitting on their hands, waiting for the problem to go away anymore.
Also of note: The same day saw the passage of a bill that would create a "Made in California" label to, it is hoped, boost the sales of locally-made products outside of the state. While this may seem like wishful thinking, like it or not, there is a certain cachet to the soon-to-be-stickered phrase; when something has over 1 million Google hits, you know there's something going on there. But is that going to make a difference to a parent shopping for groceries in Iowa -- will they choose oranges just on the strength of a California label?
As far as when these two pieces of legislation become Laws of the Land, all Governor Jerry Brown has to do now is not veto them. His deadline for doing so is October 13th, but all indications are the two will pass through unscathed.
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