Historic California Legislation
California often sets the pace for the nation in regards to lawmaking, and its laws are sometimes used as models by the United States Congress. Especially in the areas of civil rights and environmental protection, California’s laws are at the forefront and regularly include stricter requirements than their federal counterparts. In 1911, California was the sixth state to give women the vote. That progressive year also saw widespread labor reform as well as the recall, initiative, and referendum. The recall allows the people to remove elected officials from office before their term is expired: Not even the governor is exempt.
The Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act was adopted in 1969 as one of the nation’s strongest anti-pollution laws and became a model for the federal Clean Water Act of 1972. The Motor Vehicle Pollution Control Act of 1960 was the first of its kind in the country and contained stricter standards than national laws. The 1959 Fair Employment Practices Act, years ahead of the similar U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964, was followed by laws to prohibit job and/or housing discrimination based on marital status, pregnancy, and sexual orientation, and to prohibit sexual harassment on the job.