Sunday, October 11, 2015

CA Governor Jerry Brown Continues to Sign Remarkable Bills into Law, with Humility and Grace

Jerry Brown's second go-round as governor --a post he also held in the 70s --
has demonstrated all that can be good, and fair-minded, in a mature politician.

This is not exclusively about Governor Jerry Brown of California. It's also about a state legislature, though controlled entirely by the governor's party, that can work together to pass truly common-sense legislation that is authentically in the public interest.

I just read a wonderful, thoughtful article by Slate's legal writer, Dahlia Lithwick, about the humility and grace of Brown's signing statement upon signing the right-to-death law just adopted in California:
What is most singular and striking about Brown’s personal and conflicted signing document is the extent to which he attempts to reconcile the best arguments against the bill—particularly the religious and theological ones—with his sense that he cannot be certain that, were he in the same situation, he would not want the right to end his own life. As he put it:
I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn’t deny that right to others.  
There are so many things about this simple statement that are remarkable, chief among them the humility of a lawmaker attempting to imagine himself into a scenario that is heartbreaking and tragic. Compare it to the moral certainty of legislators who would deny a woman the right to end her pregnancy, even in cases of rape or incest, without giving a moment’s thought to the possibility that it could happen to them, or their daughters or wives. Compare it to the moral certainty of putative political leaders asserting that they know exactly how they would behave in a mass shooting.
Just before that, I read another aritcle in Slate about Brown signing three bills regulating medical marijuana.
The Sacramento Bee notes that while the governor's approval was expected, since his office was heavily involved in drafting the bills, an unlikely coalition of support had sprung up among some of the state's most powerful interests, from labor unions seeking worker protections to the head of the state association of police chiefs.
And the target of this regulatory intrusion, proprietors of marijuana businesses, have made it known that they don't mind the new rules. One grower told the Los Angeles Times that, even though he'll have to modify his plans for a new indoor cultivation facility in order to comply, he welcomed "this well-thought-out set of guidelines."
Imagine that. Labor unions, police chiefs, and marijuana growers and sellers all agreeing that regulation is good. That's getting everyone on-board in a state that, while controlled by and large by the Democratic Party, is nonetheless quite diverse. When police and marijuana dealers are happy together, you've found peace in the family, and there's nothing wrong with that.

In fact, there's a lot right about it. The common good is not a mythical beast to be avoided at all costs. It's a reality close at hand if citizens want to improve their lot and don't mind the dreaded compromise involved. Often, compromise is what produces good results.

What's more, Brown signed a "motor voter" law just today. When you go to get a driver's license or register a vehicle, you're given a chance to opt out of being registered to vote. If you don't, you're automatically registered. Those accepting registration will be checked for citizenship.

This is not just for the fun of it: According to the CA Secretary of State some 6.6 million Californians are unregistered to vote.

But the governor was far from finished. He also just signed a law banning concealed weapons on school and university campuses. A number of Republican politicians felt their heads explode.

So many bills have just been signed by the governor, including ones requiring vaccines for daycare workers, guaranteeing strict electronic privacy, approving efforts to expand renewable energy and increase energy efficiency, that I'm tired of listing them. Read all about the rest at "Brown's signing tsunami," which doesn't cover the bills he signed this weekend, though I covered them above.

We didn't get everything we wanted: Brown vetoed a bill that would have restricted for-profit companies from running charter schools -- often squeezing out teachers' unions -- and another that would have expanded preschool education, citing the additional expense. By and large, though, Californians can be proud of our government.

Kudos to real public-service politicians like Jerry Brown and to the citizens of California that elect them. No wonder when I feel blue about the state of American politics I remind myself that here in liberal Northern California we have our own nation-state not dissimilar to the democratic-socialist countries of Europe. I like it.

No comments:

Post a Comment