Less than two weeks ago Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that requires the state to obtain one-third of its electricity from renewable sources like wind, solar and geothermal power by 2020.

Currently the state’s three largest investor owned utilities generate 18% of its power from renewable sources according to the California Public Utilities Commission which is just short of the 20% target the state set for them.  But since they made a good faith effort to achieve the goal they weren’t penalized for failing to meet the state mandate.

Efforts in other states to push renewable energy have not worked out as planned.  In Maryland despite an overwhelming majority in the state legislature Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley couldn’t get his wind farm initiative passed because of concerns about how much it would cost consumers.

One state study in California showed that the new law would cost utilities 7% than coal or natural gas use and that cost will probably be passed on to consumers.

But there is an out.  If the costs of moving the energy are deemed excessive the utilities won’t be forced to meet the new targets and this likely to happen more than the PUC envisioned.

Ratepayers have already taken it on the chin as an analysis of renewable energy contracts under the old law showed that a whopping 59% exceeded market prices. But they were helping the environment.

Backers of the law claim that it will generate 100,000 new jobs in the state but we have heard this son before.  In Massachusetts Evergreen Solar announced earlier this year that they would be closing a plant in Devens due to competition from China leaving the state holding the bag on $58 million in incentives they gave the company to set up shop.  That’s a loss of 800 jobs in a job starved state.

Environmentalists are under the illusion that going green will always generate net job growth but they often forget that the higher costs of doing so actually stunt job growth in the long run as companies affected by higher energy costs trim overhead to make up the difference.

Gov. Brown may have scored major points with environmentalists by signing the law but he should have been focusing on how he was going to plug the state’s $26 million budget gap rather than increase the economic burden on cash-strapped residents.

While conservatives ponder living under an Obama presidency and Democratically controlled House and Senate, California liberals (read Hollywood) are stunned by the passage of a gay marriage ban in their state.

There is no doubt that the Obama candidacy brought out far more black and Latino voters than normal, but while that was good for the Democrats it was also bad for the supporters of gay marriage.

Exit polls showed that blacks voted for the ban by a whopping 70-30  percent margin and Latino’s by a smaller 51-49 percentage.  With white voters mostly favoring gay marriage there is no doubt among experts that the black vote was the key to victory for supporters of Prop 8.

If you think of it though it makes perfect sense.  Blacks and Latino’s are more liberal in general on economic issues but tend to be more socially conservative than white Democrats.

This has to do that most blacks are very religious at their core and are faithful churchgoers where they have been taught that marriage is between a man and a woman.  The same can be said for most Latino’s who tend to be mostly Catholic and much more traditional in their viewpoints than white Catholics.

Couple the California victory with that of similar measures in Florida and Arizona, the gay adoption ban in Alabama and the ending of affirmative action in three other states and conservatives actually have something to celebrate.

For the Democrats and President-Elect Obama they should be mindful that just because these groups voted for them and generally agree with their policies that if they dare to tread into highly charged social issues like gay marriage they will  be in for a rude surprise.

California has long been considered a progressive if not radical state for the number and types of ballot measures that voters face every election season.  This year is no different.  With most of the focus centering on Proposition 8 and gay marriage little attention has been paid to another measure that could have a wide economic effect on the state’s economy.

Proposition 2 which is an animal rights measure would give farm animals the right to spread their hooves and claws , rather than being confined to small cages that limit their movement as is the case with many chickens, pigs and cows.

But California doesn’t have a major veal or pork industry so the focus is on the henhouses in the state and their resident egg layers.

The battle lines are drawn with egg producers on one side claiming that this meausre would drive up production costs and therefore prices to consumers while as Wayne Pacelle, the president and chief executive of the Humane Society of of the United States (HSUS) feels that if they are going to killed for food that they deserve to be treated with decency and a semblence of life.

Maybe Mr. Pacelle insists that everything he eats be labeled as having been raised and treated more like a human being but my main concern is having a reliable and safe food supply.  I have eaten free range turkey compliments of a friend of mine and while it was vey tasty it wasn’t worth the substantial premium they paid to salve their conscience.

There is a lot at stake here.  California is the fifth largest producer- and number 1 consumer of eggs can’t afford anything that puts a dent in their economy.  Facing a massive budget deficit the last thing the state needs is a neasure that drives up costs to businesses and consumers as the economy softens.

Both sides have poured a lot of money into this campaign with the Humane Society dropping about $4 million thus far and the pro-egg Californians for Safe Food raising $6.7 million .  All this over hens and eggs.

Besides veterinary groups that have split on the issue Hollywood couldn’t resist getting in on the action.  Oprah Winfrey the Obama kingmaker recently devoted an episode of her show to the subject, complete with  mock-ups of animals in cages.  We all know what an expert Oprah is on animal rights.

There is a good chance that the measure will pass but with a soft economy and the threat of increased food prices it isn’t guaranteed even in California.