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Nathan Newman on September 3, 2006 - 9:38am
The Los Angeles Times has a rundown of bills passed by the Democratic legislature-- and for those wondering whether progressives have an agenda, it's a pretty good illustration of what could be done with a progressive majority. Many of these items may get vetoed by Arnie, but it's still an impressive list. Here are the highlights:
Bonds: $37 billion in bonds to relieve traffic congestion, build low-cost housing, repair and expand schools and strengthen levees.
Clean vehicles: Bill would require the state to set regulations by 2010 so that by 2020, half the new cars and light trucks sold in California would use an alternative fuel, such as electricity, compressed natural gas or hydrogen fuel cells.
Driver's licenses: Bill would allow California to issue driver's licenses for driving only, not for use as identification, to people who cannot prove they are in the country legally.
Gays in textbooks: Bill would ban the state Board of Education and school districts from adopting textbooks that "reflect adversely" on people because of their sexual orientation.
Greenhouse gases: Bill would require the state air board to adopt regulations to shrink California's output of carbon dioxide, methane and other gases linked to global warming to 1990 levels by 2020. Another bill would require power generators, when selling long-term contracts to California utilities, to meet greenhouse gas emission standards.
Hospital fines: Bill would allow the state to fine hospitals as much as $50,000 for patient-care lapses that cause serious injury or death. It also would require the Department of Health Services to enforce state standards at nursing homes, in response to reports last year that state inspectors had begun using more lax federal standards.
Locked-out workers: Bill would allow workers who are locked out in a labor dispute with their employer to get unemployment benefits.
Minimum wage: Bill would raise the California minimum wage from $6.75 an hour to $7.75 in January and $8 in January 2008.
National popular vote: California would join a compact of states that agree to award their Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate who wins the most votes nationwide, not the candidate who wins the most votes in each state.
Prescription drugs: Bill would require the state to negotiate discounts on medicine for roughly 6 million low-income Californians and would allow the state, starting in 2010, to make it more difficult for drug companies that don't offer discounts to sell their products to the state-run Medi-Cal program, which spends roughly $4 billion a year buying drugs.
Public records: Bill would allow the public to get public records via computer and allow citizens to appeal to the attorney general when state or local agencies deny their requests for records.
Student aid: Bill would allow students without legal immigration status to get financial aid at California public colleges and universities.
Tenants: Bill would require landlords to give tenants who have been renting from them for at least a year 60 days' notice of eviction, double the current requirement.
Universal healthcare: Bill would create a California health insurance system to provide health insurance to every Californian, eliminating the current patchwork of private and public insurance.
Welfare: Bill would allow people convicted of certain drug-related felonies to get CalWORKS benefits as long as they prove they are enrolled in or have completed a government-recognized drug treatment program.