If anyone questioned before whether California was a left-leaning state or not, they are likely not questioning it anymore. California is bracing for the legal maneuvers of a Trump administration by getting their legal ducks in order. Specifically, they have remanded the services of Eric Holder, former Attorney General of the United States, to head up a legal defense as a preemptive strike for California’s legal battles, especially regarding immigration law.
While the rest of the nation has been consumed in talks of deportation and what to do to secure the border, California remains strong in its resolve to expand safety-net benefits and provide non-US citizens more protection, like health care. Fearful, not so much of new legislation, but of enforcement of laws already enacted, they are posing for a Federal fight in the future.
After years of pushing to become more liberal, California legislatures are not going to go down without a battle if a Republican Congress tries to tread on their territory. Their agenda continues to push towards more liberalization, not conservatism, against a changing tide.
The new focus for California lawmakers is not to extend more coverage, but switching gears to ensure that those who are receiving benefits can continue to keep them even if they can’t prove immigration status or afford a visa lawyer. Wanting to make sure that every “Californian” has access to necessary medical treatment, legislators are trying to expand welfare, or at a minimum, keep it where it is instead of considering making cutbacks.
Anti-poverty groups are taking aim at any new programs that attempt to reduce access to food stamps and other welfare programs already in place. Although California is no longer trying to expand the programs to cover more individuals, they are hoping to hold firm and not cut anyone according to whether they are legal US citizens or not, regardless of what a government spearheaded by Donald Trump tries to enforce.
One of the most left-leaning states in the Union, last year California lawmakers extended benefits to their non-citizen residents and raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour. They also worked hard to limit the use of guns and make legal penalties much harsher in a tense atmosphere. Also targeted over the past couple of years have been tobacco use and the assurance of overtime for people who work on the farms across the Californian countryside.
With no end in sight, the California legislature is still owned by the Democrat party and are not all that fearful of what the Federal government might do. But just in case, they have decided to hire someone who knows how to take the Feds to court and win: Eric Holder. Hiring his services even though they aren’t yet needed is a way to send a message to President-elect Trump.
The thing that California fears most is that the Federal Government will use the one thing that they have in retaliation for a state who chooses not to enforce federal laws: that the government will stop federal funding. For a state that is already close to bankruptcy, that could spell some real trouble. If there is no money coming from the Federal government, then it makes no difference who California decides to extend the programs to because there will be no money to fund any of them.
What liberals fear most are key players like US House Speaker Paul Ryan and his push to cut unnecessary programs and his attempt to stop funding for non-US citizens. His plan is to stop the flow of block grants that allow the states to disperse funds as they see fit. That could severely limit the liberal agenda of the California legislature. If they don’t adhere to federal law, they may be in some real trouble.
With talk of repealing Obamacare on the horizon, many California politicians and residents are fearful that they will be left without means to care for their families and themselves. The next couple of years are going to be a bumpy ride for sure, and nowhere will there be more push and pull than between California and a Trump administration. Whether or not Eric Holder can be their ace in the hole remains to be seen.