Sacramento, Oct. 21 -- The Democrats who rule California took on homegrown tech giants Uber and Lyft over their workforces, convinced some of the world's biggest automakers to buck the president on fuel emissions and passed a law that could change college sports nationwide.

On issues big and small - hotels soon will be forbidden from providing guests with little plastic shampoo bottles - California this year has marched further left and tried to pull the rest of the country with it.

The state, given the virtual irrelevance of its Republican Party, is pushing the boundaries of liberal policy, forcing Democrats to draw their own lines on the role of government, corporate responsibility and social policies.

America's most populous state (...