California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a number of ‘woke’ bills into law over the weekend including a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers to schools requiring students be taught ‘ethnic studies’.
One offbeat law will see gender-neutral children’s sections being required in large stores while female students in schools and colleges will be provided free menstrual supplies in women’s bathrooms.
Newsom appears re-energized after managing to handily beat back a Republican campaign to oust him from office during a recall election last month.
During the September recall vote, Newsom bolted to a quick victory boosted by a healthy turnout in the overwhelmingly Democratic state.
One new law sees California public schools and colleges having to stock their restrooms with free menstrual products.
The move comes as women’s rights advocates push nationwide for affordable access to pads, tampons and other items.
California’s latest effort builds on a 2017 law requiring low-income schools in disadvantaged areas to provide students with free menstrual products.
California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom this weekend
It expands the law to include grades 6 to 12, community colleges and the California State University and University of California systems, starting in the 2022-23 school year. It encourages private schools and colleges to follow suit.
‘Our biology doesn’t always send an advanced warning when we’re about to start menstruating, which often means we need to stop whatever we’re doing and deal with a period,’ Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia said of her legislation. ‘Just as toilet paper and paper towels are provided in virtually every public bathrooms, so should menstrual products.’
‘California joins a growing number of states who lead the way in demonstrating that menstrual equity is a matter of human rights,’ the advocacy group PERIOD said in statement. ‘No student should ever lose learning time due to their periods, period.’
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, left, also signed into law America’s first ethnic studies requirement for high school students. State Assemblyman Jose Medina, a former ethnic studies teacher who wrote the bill, said it was ‘long overdue’
On Saturday Newsom signed a woke law forcing stores to have ‘gender neutral’ sections where traditional blue and pink toys and toothbrushes are banned.
Large department stores must now display products like toys and toothbrushes in gender-neutral ways – a win for LGBT advocates who say the pink and blue hues of traditional marketing methods pressure children to conform to gender stereotypes.
The new law, however, does not completely outlaw traditional boys and girls sections at department stores. Instead it says large stores must also have a gender neutral section to display ‘a reasonable selection’ of items ‘regardless of whether they have been traditionally marketed for either girls or for boys’.
California is the first state to require large department stores to display products like toys and toothbrushes in gender-neutral ways
That does not include clothes. The law only applies to toys and ‘childcare items,’ which include hygiene and teething products.
The law also only applies to stores with at least 500 employees, meaning small businesses are exempt.
Author of the bill Evan Low – an assemblyman and Democrat from San Jose – said he was ‘incredibly grateful’ Newsom signed the bill this year.
It was Democrats’ third attempt in the state Legislature trying to pass the law, with similar bills failing in 2019 and 2020.
Low said he was inspired by the 10-year-old girl daughter of one of his staffers who asked her mom why certain items in the store were ‘off limits’ to her because she was a girl.
‘We need to stop stigmatizing what’s acceptable for certain genders and just let kids be kids,’ Low said.
‘My hope is this bill encourages more businesses across California and the US to avoid reinforcing harmful and outdated stereotypes,’ he added.
While California is the first state to require this, some large department stores have already changed how they display their products. Target Corp, which has 1,915 stores across the United States, announced in 2015 it would stop using some gender-based signs in its stores.
The law was opposed by some Republicans and some conservative groups, who argued the government should not tell parents how to shop for their children.
Author of the bill Evan Low – an assemblyman and Democrat from San Jose – said he was inspired by the 10-year-old girl daughter of one of his staffers who asked her mom why certain items in the store were ‘off limits’ to her because she was a girl
Also over the weekend, California became the first state in the nation to make ethnic studies a required class for high school students after five years of debate.
The requirement would apply to students who graduate in 2030 and was created and approved by the state Board of Education in March after Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a similar measure last year until it was ‘inclusive of all communities.’
During the bill signing Newsom said students ‘must understand our nation’s full history if we expect them to one day build a more just society.
‘Ethnic studies courses enable students to learn their own stories — and those of their classmates.’
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed into law Friday afternoon a bill requiring students to take ethnic studies classes in order to graduate. The bill will go into effect in 2025, and California students who begin high school in 2026 will be required to pass at least one semester of the new course
The course will focus on the past and presents struggles of marginalized groups in America, including black, Asian, Latino, Jewish, Middle Eastern, Native and Indigenous Americans, women and other groups who face bigotry, the Los Angeles Times reports
The bill was authored by State Assemblyman Jose Medina with the help of an advisory committee made up of teachers and educators.
Medina called the new requirement ‘long overdue’ and just ‘one step in the long struggle for equal education for all students.’
The bill, which was first reposed in 2016, received stark criticism as opponents claimed it was filled with radical ideology and obscure jargon and bias against capitalism.
The version that Newsom vetoed last year also received backlash from the members of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, which said the bill failed to properly address anti-Semitism while providing positive representation for the boycott movement against Israel.
‘There were 14 forms of bigotry and racism in the glossary,’ said Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino), who called the exclusion of anti-Semitism glaring, obvious and offensive.
Anti-Semitism is now noted more clearly in the curriculum as a form of bigotry.
It also now includes the experiences of Armenian and Sikh communities in the US, all while toning down ‘anti-capitalist sentiments.’
Williamson Evers, a former US assistant secretary of Education, continued to speak out against the curriculum, saying it ‘is still full of left-wing ideological propaganda and indoctrination.
‘It still force feeds our children the socialist dogma that capitalism is oppression.’
Individual school districts will have the task of developing courses using the state’s curriculum guide, allowing schools to focus on parts of the curriculum that represent their student’s demographics.
All public high school will have to offer ethnic studies courses by 2025, and students who start high school in 2026 must pass at least one single-semester course.
Newsom signed off on the new law on Saturday banning gas-powered equipment that uses small off-road engines, gas-powered equipment includes generators, lawn equipment, pressure washers, chainsaws, weed trimmers and even golf carts. Under the new law the machinery will have to be battery-powered or plug-in
In one of the more unusual bills passed this weekend, California is to soon ban the sale of new gas-powered leaf blowers and lawn mowers.
The move is aimed at curbing emissions from a category of small engines on pace to produce more pollution each year than passenger vehicles.
The gas-powered equipment to be banned uses small off-road engines, a broad category that includes generators, lawn equipment, pressure washers, chainsaws, weed trimmers and even golf carts.
Under the new law these machines must be zero-emissions, meaning they’ll have to be battery-powered or plug-in.
Proponents of the law said it will reduce amount of smog-induced pollution in the air which will improve the air quality and combat climate change.
The law, which was authored by Democratic Assemblyman Marc Berman, is part of an aggressive strategy to reduce pollution in the nation’s most populous state.
‘This is a pretty modest approach to trying to limit the massive amounts of pollution that this equipment emits, not to mention the health impact on the workers who are using it constantly,’ Berman said.
‘It’s amazing how people react when they learn how much this equipment pollutes, and how much smog forming and climate changing emissions that small off-road engine equipment creates,’ he added.
The state budget, approved earlier this year, includes $30million to pay for this effort and help professional landscapers and gardeners make the transition from gas-powered equipment.
But an anonymous industry representative has told the LA Times that the budget is ‘woefully inadequate’ for the nearly 50,000 small businesses that will be affected by the new law.
Vice President of government relations for he National Association of Landscape Professionals Andrew Bray also noted that zero-emission commercial equipment is much more expensive – and much less efficient – than its gas-powered counterpart.
Author of the law Democratic Assemblyman Marc Berman (right) said that it’s ‘a pretty modest approach to trying to limit the massive amounts of pollution that this equipment emits, not to mention the health impact on the workers who are using it constantly’
He said that a gas-powered riding lawnmower costs between $7,000 and $11,000 while the zero-emissions version costs more than twice that amount.
The California Air Resources Board has already started working on executing the law, which is a lengthy process scheduled to conclude early next year.
Will Barrett, director of clean air advocacy for the American Lung Association in California, said: ‘Gov Newsom signing (this law) really sets a strong course to not only his commitment to transitioning to zero emissions but also to cleaner air and healthier lungs.’
California is the only state with the authority to regulate air quality this way in this way, which is part of an exception carved out by federal law in the 1970s.
While other states can’t enact their own regulations, they can choose to follow California’s lead.
Newsom signed the law on Saturday and ordered the California Air Resources Board to apply the new rule by January 1, 2024, or as soon as regulators determine what is ‘feasible’
This isn’t California’s first statewide effort to go greener. Last year the state’s regulators approved a first-of-its-kind rule to force automakers to sell more electric work trucks and delivery vans.
Also in 2020 Newsom ordered regulators to ban the sale of all new gas-powered cars and trucks in California by 2035 – a date that has since been embraced by some of the world’s largest automakers.
California has more than 16.7million of these small engines in the state, about 3million more than the number of passenger cars on the road.
Officials say running a gas-powered leaf blower for one hour emits the same amount of pollution as driving a 2017 Toyota Camry from Los Angeles to Denver – a distance of about 1,100 miles.
The law Newsom signed also orders regulators to offer rebates for people to change out their equipment, which is aimed at landscaping businesses that use such machines more often.
Portable gas-powered generators must also be zero-emissions by 2028, which also could be delayed at the discretion of the state agency.