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State leaders look for Obama support

January 21, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
What impact will the Obama administration have on California? We can expect to see significant change on at least two major issues: the environment and health care.After former President Bush vetoed it twice, the expansion of government-subsidized healthcare for children is one of the first things President Obama said he will approve. California really needs the extra funding to handle the 30,000 new cases a month the Healthy Families program is seeing.

"We're going to get more children insured," said healthcare advocate Nancy Ly. "It's an awesome thing. We've been fighting for this for a long time."

California's environment could also be a big winner. More forest land is likely to be protected, and the development of renewable energy can boost the state's economy. And the state can stop fighting the Bush administration over tailpipe emissions that contribute to global warming.

"They wanted to cut down forests, they wanted to drill for oil in special areas," Barbara Boyle, Sierra Club. "And they didn't believe in climate change. We have a complete sea change with this new administration."

While not a priority for the new president, the federal government is expected to lay off of Bush's crackdown of medical marijuana use.

But not everyone is happy with the change in Washington. Conservatives don't like that embryos will be included in stem-cell research.

"We're experimenting on unborn embryos for an effort to cure diseases," said Terry Thompson, Life Legal Defense. "Why aren't Americans outraged?"

Political experts warn some policy changes benefiting California could take a while, given the way Washington works.

"A system, by the way, that's designed not to allow [residents to get everything they want, but to check and balance, to thwart, to require compromise," said Prof. Larry Berman, Ph.D., UC Davis political science. "That system will eventually catch up to our president."

What state leaders really want changed is how much money the federal government sends here. For years, California has been a donor state: for every tax dollar it sends to Washington, fewer than 80 cents come back.

California leaders are sure to bend President Obama's ear while in D.C.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote to President Obama Wednesday, asking him to grant the state's request for a Clean Air Act waiver so it can regulate pollution from passenger cars.


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