The Sacramento Bee
By the Editorial Board
01/04/2015 12:01 AM
Not long ago, California was mired in debt and legislative gridlock. Then someone had an idea. In the space of a couple of years, voters eased the two-thirds requirement for passing the state budget and approved a temporary tax increase. Now California is running a surplus and the Legislature is a font of comity, relatively speaking.
In short, ideas have consequences.
Though the many bills passed each session are what usually produce headlines, the concepts underneath are the soil in which legislation tends to be rooted, and California has long been fertile ground for new approaches.
As lawmakers reconvene and the state’s idea-man-in-chief, Gov. Jerry Brown, heads into a historic fourth term, here are a few that Californians can expect to hear about this year:
Cap and trade. Popularized by the Reagan White House and brought to fruition here by the Schwarzenegger administration, cap and trade involves setting an ever-lowering cap on greenhouse gas emissions and letting businesses get there by letting the clean ones sell the dirtier ones their pollution allowances. Already, plenty of industries are being affected, but when gasoline is brought into the system this month, all Californians will feel it. Pump prices are expected to rise by a dime or so a gallon. Given plunging gas prices, we don’t mind too much.
Affirmative consent. The University of California elevated this approach to rape prevention by redefining sexual assault on campus, for the purposes of student disciplinary proceedings, from “no means no” to “yes means yes.” That yes has to be “affirmative, conscious and voluntary,” and it can be revoked. That’s a game-changer because it means, among other things, that a “yes” from a co-ed who has had too much to drink doesn’t count, legally speaking. Starting this year, the new standard will apply to most public and private colleges in California. It shouldn’t have been necessary, but this is what happens when one in five women can expect to be assaulted during their time on college campuses.