The California legislature has set out on a bold path not only to change the direction of the state’s culture but also to influence the country as a whole. For decades, California has been known as a bellwether state—what happens here first will be followed elsewhere. Many Sacramento politicians in the majority party have their eyes on the larger goal of changing the country.

From environmental laws, to immigration to education and even sexual orientation, California pols are challenging the country’s norms.

While critics charged that AB 32’s carbon-limit regulations would have little effect if the rest of the country, indeed other countries, do not go along, California lawmakers pushed ahead. When the usually friendly-to-California Obama administration said that education funds would be withheld if California voted to change student-testing requirements, the state pols shrugged and approved the bill anyway.

Passing bills to change long held positions on transgender individuals to allow them to declare for themselves instead of allowing physical attributes to determine their gender; or passing a bill to allow an individual in the country unlawfully to legally practice law, challenge national norms.

While the goals of the latter bills might focus on individuals, you get the sense that the legislature is telling the country: This is the way we should all live, follow us.

The goal of much of this and other legislation is to drive change nationally.

Of course, California often has the weight to force change because of its size and influence. California’s smog controls of a few decades ago forced change in the manufacture of automobiles.

California matters in another way, as well. With its 55 electoral votes, the state is a crucial piece in determining who would be president of the United States. Some pundits say a Democratic candidate cannot win the presidency without California. A Republican candidate would have to run the table of most competitive states to offset a loss in California.

So the state and its politics cannot be ignored on the national level.

Urban liberals and interest groups in their corner drive California’s lawmaking. Rural California does not support the Sacramento agenda. Just ask the good folks in rural Siskiyou County whose representatives voted to leave the state mainly because of the policy choices Sacramento makes.

While one suspects that California pols have an agenda that is larger than merely changing the rules we live by in this state, to borrow an old show biz phrase: Will the California agenda play in Peoria?