I am still taking in the November election. The results in California were historic with the election of a Super Majority in both houses of the Legislature. California voters re-elected Governor Jerry Brown (who signed the first Japanese American redress bill in the nation in 1982), and elected former PSW Regional Director Al Muratsuchi to the Assembly. Muratsuchi, who attended the Seattle Convention, joins Mariko Yamada, Richard Pan, Paul Fong, Das Williams, Rob Bonta, Phil Ting, and Ed Chau in the lower house.
I think there is a chance to move APIA issues forward in California, and with 52% of the Japanese American population residing in California, JACL has a natural role in the state. I spent a day in the State Capitol promoting a resolution to apologize to Japanese Americans who were fired from their jobs with the State of California in 1942. I also met with the appointments secretary for the Governor about API appointments to boards and commissions. The discussions laid the groundwork for a stronger JACL presence in California.
California is ridiculed for its progressive policies, but where California goes, it is more likely other states and the feds will go. I remember when a bill to make sexual harassment a crime was branded as an anti-business job killer. Today, it is unconscionable to think of a workplace in which sexual harassment is legal. Redress first became a reality in California, as did a number of other laws dealing with API issues from the carrying of the kirpan by Sikhs to proclaiming a Day of Remembrance.
In my experience, every bill generally has their day in the California Legislature, garnering at least a committee hearing, unlike Congress where a bill may or may not see the light of day. With an open-minded governor, a large APIA Caucus, and a Democratic leadership in both houses that are pro-civil rights, this is about as good as it gets for civil rights public policy.