California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom rushed to approve a series of laws in recent days. The laws will force schools to provide free tampons or pads for women. In addition, large toy stores must have a section with gender-neutral toys, all gasoline-powered tools will be banned, and school curricula must teach the history of major immigrant groups in the United States.

Saturday, Oct. 9 was the final date to pass or veto the fiscal year 2022 legislation, so the governor rushed to get those pending bills passed, reported Daily Mail.

Feminine hygiene products for female students

Schools and universities must have feminine hygiene products in the bathrooms free of charge for women.

Activists from the group ‘PERIOD’ campaigned for affordable prices for tampons, pads, and other items to deal with menstruation because it is a “human right.”

“California joins a growing number of states who lead the way in demonstrating that menstrual equity is a matter of human rights,” the advocacy group PERIOD said in a statement. “No student should ever lose learning time due to their periods, period.”

“Our biology doesn’t always send an advanced warning when we’re about to start menstruating, which often means we need to stop whatever we’re doing and deal with a period,” Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia said of her legislation. “Just as toilet paper and paper towels are provided in virtually every public bathrooms, so should menstrual products.”

The law covers grades 6 through 12, community colleges, and state universities and will take effect from 2022-2023. The state, as usual, encourages the private education system to follow the guideline.

Gasoline-powered tools

Assemblyman Marc Berman authored the bill—part of an aggressive strategy to improve air quality and combat pollution—that will ban the use of gasoline-powered tools to reduce air emissions supposedly.

The tools affected by the law include lawnmowers, power washers, chain saws, golf carts, generators, and weed cutters.

The law will force those who own such tools to switch to battery-powered or plug-in alternatives.

There are more than 16.7 million of these small engines in California. Officials say running a gasoline-powered leaf blower for an hour emits the same amount of pollution as driving a 2017 Toyota Camry from Los Angeles to Denver, a distance of about 1,100 miles.

“This is a pretty modest approach to trying to limit the massive amounts of pollution that this equipment emits, not to mention the health impact on the workers who are using it constantly,” Berman said.

“It’s amazing how people react when they learn how much this equipment pollutes, and how much smog forming and climate changing emissions that small off-road engine equipment creates,” the assemblyman added.

This law will most heavily impact professional landscapers and gardeners, so the government will allocate some $30 million to switch this group of workers from fuel-powered tools to power equipment.

However, representatives of the power tool industry say the money is not enough to help the more than 50,000 small businesses that will be impacted by the law.

They also mentioned that electric-powered tools cost twice as much as gasoline-powered tools and are less efficient.

In 2020, Newsom issued an order to ban the manufacture of new cars and trucks with fully gas-fueled engines by 2035.

‘Gender-neutral’ toy section

Large toy stores, those with more than 500 employees, will be required to display “gender-neutral” toy and toothbrush sections with a reasonable selection of items “regardless of whether they have traditionally been marketed to girls or boys.”

The bill’s author, Evan Low, a Democratic Assemblyman from San Jose, said, “We need to stop stigmatizing what’s acceptable for certain genders and just let kids be kids.”

“My hope is this bill encourages more businesses across California and the U.S. to avoid reinforcing harmful and outdated stereotypes,” he added.

If by 2024 stores do not have a gender-neutral section, a penalty of up to $250 will be imposed for the first offense, with subsequent offenses going up to $500.

Initially, Low had included clothing stores, and the fines for non-compliance were higher, so the bill did not pass.

According to the California Globe, many retailers complained about the provision because it only creates a burden for them and proves nearly impossible to implement.

“A lot of places don’t even have boys or girls sections anymore,” Alan Morgen, a toy store owner in Riverside County, told the Globe on Monday. “Most just have aisles based on the type of toy. I mean, c’mon, I dare you to try and figure out where to put Legos in a store with only boys and girls aisles.”

Even the governor of Texas, a Republican and conservative, used his Twitter account to point out that it was not a matter for lawmakers to regulate how a toy store is organized.

“California mandates gender-neutral toy aisles for big box stores. Texas doesn’t. In Texas, it’s the businesses—NOT the government—that decide how to display their merchandise,” Abbott tweeted.

Ethnic Studies

Other legislation Newsom passed before Saturday will force students graduating in 2030 to pass a subject called “ethnic studies.” Governor Newsom said everyone “must understand our nation’s full history if we expect them to one day build a more just society.”

“Ethnic studies courses allow students to learn about their own histories and those of their peers,” the Democrat added.

The course will focus on the past and present struggles of marginalized groups in the United States, including blacks, Asians, Latinos, Jews, Native Americans, women, and other groups facing bigotry.

The bill was introduced several years ago but was rejected because the original version did not include a definition of antisemitism but did include a definition of so-called Islamophobia.

Critics of the law claim it contains the same language and goals as Critical Race Theory, promoting African-Americans as oppressed and whites as oppressors.

“Ethnic studies is not a discipline; it is political activism, and is training students to be foot soldiers,” said Tammi Rossman-Benjamin. She is the co-founder and Director of the AMCHA Initiative, a non-profit organization dedicated to investigating, documenting, educating about, and combating antisemitism in higher education institutions in America.

“It goes against everything real education stands for—and it is dividing the world into “us and them,” Rossman-Benjamin said.

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