5 days for Newsom to decide 550+ bills

Your guide to California policy and politics
Emily Hoeven BY Emily Hoeven September 26, 2022
Presented by Dairy Cares, Climate-Smart Agricultural Partnership and Southern California Gas Company

5 days for Newsom to decide 550+ bills

I’m back from a lovely vacation! Many thanks to my wonderful colleague Ben Christopher and other CalMatters reporters for guest hosting the newsletter while I was gone.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has until midnight Friday to determine the fate of the more than 550 bills on his desk — or risk turning into a pumpkin.

That last part may not be exactly true, but the bill tally from veteran Sacramento lobbyist Chris Micheli is, and underscores just how much work Newsom has ahead of him: He needs to sign or veto an average of about 110 bills per day to get through all of them by the Friday deadline.

CalMatters is tracking Newsom’s decisions on some of the most interesting, controversial or noteworthy bills state lawmakers sent him before the 2022 legislative session ended last month. Here’s a closer look at three proposals that especially caught our eye — and the politically fraught choices they may pose for Newsom:

  • A bill that would usher in the nation’s most wide-ranging changes to solitary confinement by preventing inmates in California’s prisons, jails and immigration detention facilities from being held in solitary confinement for more than 15 consecutive days, and for more than 45 days out of 180. The proposal would also ban the practice altogether for people younger than 26 or older than 59; women who are pregnant, recently had a baby or suffered a miscarriage; and those with physical or mental disabilities. The bill’s proponents say solitary confinement is tantamount to torture and does nothing to rehabilitate inmates. But a former member of the Mexican Mafia, who spent decades alone in 8-by-10 cells, much of it in solitary, told CalMatters’ Nigel Duara that he disagrees. “Without some kind of deterrent, I mean, you go whack a guy and you get 15 days in the hole and you’re back in a regular general population yard,” he said. “Is it a bad place? Sure. But they have to have bad places for bad people.”
  • A bill that would extend by one year the lifespan of California’s first-in-the-nation reparations task force, allowing it to deliberate until July 1, 2024 on how to best compensate African Americans for slavery and its lingering effects. The proposal would also permit state lawmakers to remove and replace people on the nine-member task force. Advocates voiced alarm about these provisions when the reparations task force met Friday and Saturday in Los Angeles, CalMatters’ Lil Kalish reports: Audience member Tiffany Quarles described the bill as “a betrayal of Black Americans,” adding, “We’ve been waiting for 400 years. We do not need an extension.” Meanwhile, Chris Lodgson, an organizer with the Coalition for a Just and Equitable California, said the removal clause “politicizes” the process: “If some of the politicians don’t like the fact that we’re getting cash reparations, they could simply remove people on the task force who support them,” he said. During the two-day meeting, the task force also began putting dollar figures to potential compensation for Black Californians who can establish lineage to enslaved ancestors. For more, check out Lil’s story.
  • A bill that would allow jaywalking on empty streets, permitting law enforcement officers to stop pedestrians only when “a reasonably careful person would realize there is an immediate danger of a collision,” CalMatters political intern Ariel Gans reports. Newsom last year vetoed a similar bill that would have repealed the state’s jaywalking laws and prohibited fines until Jan. 1, 2029, warning that it would “reduce pedestrian safety” even as he denounced the “unequal enforcement of jaywalking laws” and their use as a “pretext to stop people of color.”
    • Last year, pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. hit a four-decade high, and California recorded the highest number of any state. At the same time, California’s local law enforcement agencies write thousands of jaywalking tickets every year, which studies find disproportionately impact people of color.
    • Kevin Claxton, interim executive director of the California Bicycle Coalition: The bill “allows police to issue a ticket when someone crosses the street in a way that puts them or others in danger, but it will end biased and pretextual jaywalking stops that don’t improve public safety.”
    • California District Attorneys Association CEO Greg Totten: “This is very bad public policy that’s going to endanger pedestrians and really tie the hands of law enforcement who are trying to do their job and keep pedestrians safe.”

Join CalMatters and the Milken Institute on Tuesday, Oct. 4 from 12-1:30 p.m. for a free, virtual event exploring California’s path to creating more climate-friendly job opportunities and helping underserved communities access them. Register here.


1 Newsom acts on key bills

California state senators, Bob Hertzberg, left, and Anthony Portantino show a gun control bill signed by Gov. Gov. Gavin Newsom during a news conference held on on the campus of Santa Monica College in Santa Monica on July 22, 2022. Photo by Jae C. Hong, AP Photo
State lawmakers show a gun control bill signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom at Santa Monica College on July 22, 2022. Photo by Jae C. Hong, AP Photo

Newsom has so far signed nearly 550 bills and vetoed just over 60, according to Micheli. Here’s a look at some of the most noteworthy and interesting bills on which he took action on Friday and over the weekend:

2 Newsom takes Texas

A redistricting illustration by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters; iStock
Illustration by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters; iStock,

Newsom is on an interstate roll: The governor on Saturday traveled to Texas — home to one of his chief political nemeses, GOP Gov. Greg Abbott — to speak on a panel at the Texas Tribune Festival about “what the nation’s most populous state can teach the other 49 — including this one.” The trip came just two days after Newsom returned to California from New York, where he touted the Golden State’s environmental policies at Climate Week NYC.

The Texas and New York appearances are just the latest in a long string of actions — including running campaign ads in Florida and Texas, promoting California’s policies in D.C., putting up billboards in seven states with near or total abortion bans urging women to seek reproductive care in California, and challenging GOP Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to a debate — that suggest Newsom may be positioning himself for a presidential run as soon as 2024.

  • But the governor, for the umpteenth time, unequivocally shot down that notion at the Texas Tribune Festival: “No, not happening,” Newsom said. “I cannot say it enough. I never trust politicians, so I get why you keep asking.”
  • Nevertheless, Newsom used part of his time in Texas to reiterate his call for Democrats to more aggressively combat Republicans on such hot-button topics as abortion, LGBTQ rights, immigration and education: “These guys are ruthless on the other side,” he said. “They dominate the most important thing in American politics today and that’s the narrative — facts become secondary to narrative. They dominate with illusion. And we are getting crushed. … We have to meet this moment head on, and damn it, the Democratic Party has to assert itself much more aggressively than we have.”
  • In regard to spending money from his reelection campaign on ads in other states, “Our donors are asking for more of that,” CBS News reported Newsom as saying. “The people in the state of California are asking for more leadership in this space.”

Meanwhile, some California Republicans slammed Newsom for appearing in Texas, one of the nearly two dozen states to which California has banned state-funded travel for policies it deems discriminatory to LGBTQ people. Newsom’s reelection campaign paid for his travel to Texas, spokesperson Nathan Click told me Sunday. The California Highway Patrol did not respond Sunday to a question about whether taxpayers covered the cost of his security detail.

3 Amid ambitious climate moves, concerns remain

An aeriel view of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, the world’s largest solar thermal power station, in the Mojave Desert near Nipton on February 27, 2022. Photo by Bing Guan, Reuters
An aeriel view of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert near Nipton on Feb. 27, 2022. Photo by Bing Guan, Reuters

There’s never a shortage of environmental news in California, so let’s dive right into the latest:


CalMatters Commentary

CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: Pressure is building for another overhaul of California’s multibillion-dollar workers’ compensation system for dealing with job-related illnesses and injuries.

California needs to protect families from displacement: My family has worked relentlessly to maintain our roots in East Palo Alto, because the city is our home. But we can no longer live there because there aren’t any affordable homes, writes Heleine Grewe, a sophomore at Menlo College.

Other things worth your time

Some stories may require a subscription to read

Why Californians are working to flip red state legislatures blue. // Los Angeles Times

Why is California gas $1.89 higher than the national average? // Mercury News

California’s homelessness crisis hits new flash point: Private residents suing cities over encampments. // San Francisco Chronicle

California Attorney General now involved in dispute between San Diego County, El Cajon over hotel voucher program. // CBS 8

California cities took over their houses. Then a private company drove them into debt. // Sacramento Bee

Los Angeles homeless count raises doubts about accuracy. // Los Angeles Times

Do trendy tiny homes really work as a solution to homelessness? // Mercury News

L.A. agencies returned $150 million in federal homelessness funds. // Los Angeles Times

CalPERS underperformed for a decade, investment chief says in pitch for more risk. // Sacramento Bee

State delays public release of English, math and science test score results to later this year. // EdSource

How the pandemic saved one of California’s smallest public schools. // Los Angeles Times

Therapists on strike refuse Kaiser’s offer as contract dispute enters second month. // Mercury News

They were entitled to free care. Hospitals hounded them to pay. // New York Times

Imperial County’s use of psychiatric holds appears to violate state law. // inewsource

Alleged stalker returns to S.F. after judge dismisses case, sparking outcry. // San Francisco Chronicle

2 ex-Alameda County deputies charged in S.F. beating received quiet plea deals from Boudin’s office. // San Francisco Chronicle

Breed to end practice of making appointees sign undated resignation letters in face of legislative action. // San Francisco Standard

Suit blames PG&E equipment for Mosquito Fire, California’s largest wildfire in 2022. // Sacramento Bee

Families sue SoCal Edison over deadly Fairview fire in Hemet. // Los Angeles Times

Why does California still have manned fire lookouts in the age of cell phones and cameras? // San Francisco Chronicle

Big waves move railroad tracks, again, in south San Clemente. // Orange County Register

See you tomorrow


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