Gov. Brown sees his ambitious agenda as a template for nation

Anthony York - Los Angeles Times

For the first two years of his late-in-life second act as governor, Jerry Brown focused almost exclusively on California's woeful budget situation.

Now, with the immediate crisis having passed after a hard-won tax increase, Brown is back trying to change the world, like the Jerry Brown of yesteryear.

But instead of looking toward higher office, the three-times-unsuccessful candidate for president is trying to effect that change from the state Capitol.

As he works through hundreds of bills on his desk that must be signed or vetoed by Oct. 13, Brown has taken steps aimed at combating global warming, reversing growing income disparity and giving undocumented immigrants a series of new rights. The governor says California is forging a political path that could become a national model.

"Things happen in California that are not happening in Washington," Brown said after an appearance at an electric-vehicle expo in San Francisco last week. "We can do a lot of things in California to shift the [political] climate throughout the whole country."

Some are skeptical that laws passed in California — where Democrats dominate state politics — can do much to prompt action from politically divided Washington.

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