In a sign of uneasiness over President Trump's environmental agenda, state lawmakers hosted a hearing Wednesday to discuss how California's air quality policies rely on federal regulations.
Although the state is allowed to pursue stricter rules than federal standards under the nearly five-decade-old Clean Air Act, such steps require a waiver from the federal government. Trump's choice to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, former Oklahoma Atty. Gen. Scott Pruitt, has signaled he may be more skeptical of the state's requests than previous administrators, who granted requests nearly every time they were submitted.
“Nothing in the law has changed to justify the EPA withholding our waiver," said Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), who testified at the hearing. "The only thing that has changed is the balance of political power in Washington, D.C."
The details of their plan are still hazy, but proponents of a single-payer healthcare system in California are already ramping up pressure on lawmakers to back publicly funded universal coverage.
Hundreds rallied at the state Capitol on Wednesday to back SB 562, a measure introduced last week that would establish a single-payer system in California.
The rally was organized by the California Nurses Assn., a union that has long backed universal healthcare and was an ardent supporter of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders in his 2016 run. Sanders (I-Vt.) ran on a "Medicare for all" platform, a cause that the nurses have continued to back now that Republicans in Washington are seeking to repeal or overhaul the Affordable Care Act.