SACRAMENTO, Calif. This year promises to be a blockbuster year in California state politics. Once again, the Golden State will host a national debate on some of the most polarizing and controversial moral questions concerning families, parental authority and the value of human life.
Get ready for the show!
This year, the state Legislature and courts are slated to decide the fate of public policy that will determine California's legal stance on a range of issues including embryonic stem-cell research, physician-assisted suicide and so-called "gay marriage." The stakes are high, and the outcome is, as yet, unknown.
Just weeks into the 2007 California State Legislative Session, approximately 150 pieces of legislation have been submittedjust a trickle of what is to come. More than 1,000 new bills are anticipated before the Feb. 23 deadline.
Legislative new releases include proposed bans on trans-fats, shock pens, smoking on public beaches and in cars with minors, and mandatory human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations for young girls. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's emphasis on healthcare has also generated a swell of health-related legislation.
Gerrymandered districts ensured the election of incumbents and secured the Democratic majority during the November 2006 election. The politically charged process of drawing legislative and congressional districts was heavily debated last year. Schwarzenegger is again pushing legislation that would take this task from lawmakers and turn it over to an independent panel, a change favored by Republicans. It's no wonder, given that the partisan make-up of the Legislature remains exactly the same as last year 48 Democrats and 32 Republicans in the Assembly, and 25 Democrats and 15 Republicans in the Senate. Both Democrats and Republicans have offered redistricting bills for the current legislative session.
As a result, California can expect to see many legislative "pet projects" resurrected in 2007 for another try. These "sequels," bills with the same or similar language and new numbers, are likely to create the most partisan bickering.
Last year, Schwarzenegger vetoed a string of bad ideas, including "gay marriage," and a dangerous plan to indoctrinate California public schoolchildren with homosexuality. In 2007, Schwarzenegger will be called on by pro-family advocates once again to block egregious legislation, passed on by a decidedly liberal state legislature, dominated by pro-homosexual lobbyists.
Equality California, a gay, lesbian and transgendered advocacy group, and its allies, have made tremendous headway toward the goal of normalizing homosexual behavior, primarily targeting public schoolchildren.
Sen. Sheila Kuehl's, D-Santa Monica, attempt to transform public schools into what she described as "social engineering" laboratories for the pro-homosexual agenda promises to return. Last year, 58,000 e-mails, faxes and calls in opposition flooded Schwarzenegger's office and secured the veto.
Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, has already re-introduced his so-called "gay marriage" bill. Assembly Bill (AB) 43 would overturn California's definition of marriage as between a man and woman.
The measure returns despite the fact that traditional marriage was overwhelmingly affirmed by 61 percent of voters in the 2000 California ballot initiative, Proposition 22. Since then, the legal battle to uphold Proposition 22 has bounced through several rounds of appeals. The California Supreme Court is currently reviewing these cases and a verdict is expected later this year.
Embryonic stem cells
California courts are also expected to resolve the two-year battle over Proposition 71a $3 billion bond for embryonic stem-cell research. In the legal challenge, the California Family Bioethics Council and other taxpayer groups have asserted that voters were not told by the pre-election ballot arguments and official analysis of Proposition 71 about serious conflicts of interest written into Proposition 71. The governing board responsible for spending the $3 billion windfall has tried to exempt itself from conflict-of-interest laws in order to award funds to its own member institutions, as has already occurred.
Although narrowly defeated last year, the physician-assisted suicide issue will be revived in 2007. New legislation is expected to repackage PAS using "softer" language to sell the same ideathe removal of civil and criminal liability for doctors who prescribe a lethal overdose of barbiturates to "terminally ill" patients.
Both the American Medical Association and the California Medical Associationwith help from a broad coalition of organizations working with bi-partisan leadershipoppose PAS. With newly elected members, this coalition will seek out representatives willing to champion the cause of life in 2007.
Hope for a 'happy ending'
The political saber-rattling of Sacramento may seem a far cry from the everyday life of most Californians and, truthfully, many of California's elected representatives benefit from the lack of interest constituents show for political life. California families, however, need to keep careful watch. In 2007, families, marriage, parental authority, and life itself are under attack. Just like last year, the critical difference may be your voice.
Stay informed and be prepared to take action!
Abby Llewellyn Bailes is a public policy specialist for the California Family Council.