California cements abortion rights, flavored tobacco ban
Note: The newsletter will pause until Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023. Happy holidays and happy New Year!
If you were reading the text of the California Constitution on Wednesday — as one does — you would have noticed a new line: “The state shall not deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions, which includes their fundamental right to choose to have an abortion and their fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives.”
That addition is the result of voters in November overwhelmingly approving Proposition 1, which Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers placed on the ballot following the leak of a draft U.S. Supreme Court majority opinion that previewed the court’s ultimate decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1978 ruling that established federal abortion protections.
- Newsom said in a video message: “As other states continue to restrict access to abortion and contraception, California will continue to be a safe haven for reproductive health care.”
- Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, a San Diego Democrat, said in a statement: “While we made historic progress this year, our work is far from over, and my colleagues in the California Legislative Women’s Caucus and I are committed to continuing to lead the nation in developing policies that will strengthen and expand reproductive rights and access in our state.”
Also in effect as of Wednesday: California’s ban on the sale of certain flavored tobacco products — the result of voters in November upholding a state law that would have been implemented two years ago had the tobacco industry not qualified a referendum to put it on hold until voters had a chance to weigh in. After the election, the tobacco industry sought to block the law from taking effect by petitioning all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to intervene.
Latest coverage of the 2022 general election in California
As more and more business groups look to referendums to try to overturn — or at least delay — laws they dislike coming out of Sacramento, advocacy groups and Californians are pushing back.
- Labor unions have filed petitions with the secretary of state alleging illegal tactics from signature gatherers working on behalf of the fast food industry, which is seeking to qualify a 2024 referendum to block a law setting industrywide standards for wages and working conditions.
- Environmental justice advocates and other Californians have filed reports with similar allegations about signature gatherers working for the oil industry, which is attempting to qualify a 2024 referendum to overturn a law banning new oil and gas wells within 3,200 feet of such sensitive areas as schools, homes and hospitals.
But some aren’t waiting to find out whether the referendums qualify for the 2024 ballot. A coalition of environmental groups sent Newsom and other state officials a letter last week urging them to “cease approving oil and gas permits for further extractive activities at wells already located within 3,200 feet of a home, school, or other sensitive receptor.”
And the Los Angeles Times editorial board argued Tuesday that Newsom “has the power to shut down new drilling independent of the new law — and he should use it.”
Whether Newsom will attempt to circumvent a possible referendum on a law he signed just two months ago could serve as a litmus test for how far he’s willing to escalate his battle with the oil industry, on which he’s asked state lawmakers to enact a penalty for allegedly price-gouging Californians at the gas pump.
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1 2024 election battles take shape
Yes, the results of California’s Nov. 8 election were certified just five days ago, and yes, 2024 election battles are already beginning to brew. Combine that with branching family trees and Dem-on-Dem fights, and 2024 is already looking pretty explosive. Here’s the latest:
- Riverside City Councilmember Clarissa Cervantes announced Wednesday that she will in 2024 seek the state Assembly seat currently held by her sister, Sabrina, who on Tuesday launched her own 2024 campaign for the state Senate seat that will be vacated by the termed-out incumbent Richard Roth. If both Cervantes win their campaigns, it would mark the latest entry in the California Legislature’s long list of lawmakers bequeathing their seats to family members or staffers. Some recent examples: Akilah Weber replaced her mother, Shirley, in the state Assembly after the latter was appointed secretary of state — while Mia Bonta replaced her husband, Rob, in the Assembly after he was appointed attorney general. The family connection doesn’t always work, however: Daniel Hertzberg recently lost his bid to replace his termed-out father, Bob, in the state Senate.
- Both Cervantes are set to face off against fellow Democrats in 2024: Clarissa against fellow Riverside City Councilmember Ronaldo Fierro and Sabrina against Riverside school board member Angelo Farooq.
- Another possibly fierce Democratic intraparty battle is taking shape in Orange County: Incumbent state Sens. Dave Min and Josh Newman — who were drawn into the same district following 2021’s post-Census redistricting process — will both vie for the new seat in 2024.
2 Looking back on 2022 — and ahead to 2023
It seems that one aftereffect of the pandemic is that it’s warped our sense of time — which can make it difficult to remember everything that happened in the world of California politics and policy in 2022, and how those events might inform the challenges and opportunities the state faces in 2023. But never fear, CalMatters’ annual primer is here! In this comprehensive, concise guide, our team of reporters breaks down key 2022 developments in the Newsom administration and state Legislature and delves into such issues as the economy, health, housing and homelessness, K-12 and higher education, justice, the environment, poverty and inequality and the federal government. We also preview key themes to watch in 2023. Give the primer a read here.
- CalMatters Editor-in-Chief Dave Lesher: “We hope it helps you learn a bit more about how California government works, and that it informs or even inspires your participation in our democracy.”
CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: A federal judge has brought an end to Newsom’s political posturing by blocking his foolish gun law.
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