Thank you California

I have a New Year’s tradition. Always fun, it’s grown even more important over the past three years. When the calendar flips, I look up lists of Things That Went Right that year. I start with “Oh, well that’s a good thing” and end with a sort of calm relaxation when the grimacing endurance I didn’t know I was holding inside gives way to a long soft smile.


There’s always a precious section on environmental gains, with species protected, disasters averted/delayed, and recovery efforts making good on their goals. Then there’s an inspiring series of social justice advances, as our species fosters the ethical goodness (and common sense) that are our higher potential. Then the largest section lists darn-near-miraculous scientific advances to remind us that now really is a fantastic time to be alive. 2019 has some great stuff for those lists.


But today I have slightly different good news lists: New Laws Going Into Effect in California in 2020. And they’re gorgeous.

California flag

California is countering gun violence, protecting contract & gig workers from exploitation, and supporting our school districts. Rape kits have to be processed in a timely manner, you can’t discriminate against someone for having natural (i.e. black) hair, and we’ll watch which doctors are issuing too many anti-vaccine exemptions. These and many more new laws are countering modern problems and responding to changing realities.


We’re balancing mistakes at the national level by restoring the individual mandate for healthcare (to produce a system that works), expanding grants for graduate programs to DREAMers, and doing our best to treat immigrants like full fledged human beings. To further protect our most vulnerable citizens we’re capping the exploitative payday loan industry, increasing minimum wage, and easing access to birth control.


From the California-specific (requiring our heinous utility company to do a better job not-killing people with disabilities when they shut the power off) to the globally relevant (consumer privacy protections) and the just plain feel-good sweet stuff (eliminating pet adoption fees for military vets) I see a long list of government working to fulfill their side of the social contract.


None of these laws is perfect or complete, because perfection isn’t real and solutions are multi-layered, but collectively they give me the feeling that my state government is making things better. This is a profound thing in a moment when trust in government is sculling around in the gutter, which enables the people who benefit from this mistrust to continue wrecking things to fulfill their own prophecy. But more than that, it just feels good to feel good.


Thank you, California.