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Your guide to California policy and politics
BY Emily Hoeven December 22, 2022
Presented by Prologis, California Water Service, American Pistachio Growers and Cal Needs Assessment

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.

Prop. 1 went into effect Wednesday, five days after Secretary of State Shirley Weber certified the results of the Nov. 8 election.

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.

2022 Election

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.

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

Clarissa Cervantes announced her campaign for her sister Sabrina’s state Assembly seat on Dec. 21, 2022. Image via Facebook

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:

2 Looking back on 2022 — and ahead to 2023

An updated primer from the CalMatters team aims to help Californians understand their state government. Photo collage by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters

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.”
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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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Other things worth your time


Some stories may require a subscription to read

Latest on 6.4 magnitude earthquake in Humboldt County: Power still out for thousands, boil advisories in effect. // Mercury News

California plans deny mental health claims despite new law. // Bloomberg Law

Can the California grid handle a gas phaseout? // E&E News

California lawmakers want answers on Middle Class Tax Refund debit card issues. // KCRA

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo: 400 million guns aren’t going to just go away. In San Jose, we’re trying something new. // New York Times

California keeps better police shooting data than the FBI. Here’s why that’s a problem. // San Francisco Chronicle

See Spot spy? A new generation of police robots faces backlash in California. // Los Angeles Times

LAPD tells officers to celebrate responsibly after 7 DUI arrests. // Los Angeles Times

UC Health system chief to depart after steering academic hospitals through COVID pandemic. // Sacramento Bee

At Berkeley Law, a debate over Zionism, free speech and campus ideals. // New York Times

$36.5 million from Monsanto water pollution settlement headed to Bay Area cities, Alameda County. // Mercury News

SF gave $1.4 billion to nonprofits this year. Many weren’t living up to contracts. // San Francisco Standard

New database reveals MacKenzie Scott donated hundreds of millions of dollars to California education. // EdSource

LA students and their parents to get unique roadmap to improve academic weaknesses. // Los Angeles Times

LA Mayor Bass releases new ‘Inside Safe’ plan to combat homelessness. // LAist

Tesla to implement hiring freeze and new round of layoffs. // Eletrek

Why California will escape ‘bomb cyclone’ while rest of U.S. freezes. // San Francisco Chronicle

See you tomorrow

Tips, insight or feedback? Email emily@calmatters.org.

Follow me on Twitter: @emily_hoeven

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