Advocates lobby Gavin Newsom on California bills
The Legislature is basically done and gone until January. So let the lobbying begin — of Gavin Newsom and his key advisers for the governor to sign, or veto, bills on his desk.
He usually doesn’t signal which way he’s leaning, though he did Sunday on two key climate transparency bills. He’s in New York City for Climate Week, and history indicates he’s unlikely to delegate significant legislation to Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, who is acting governor while he’s out of state.
Still, that isn’t stopping advocacy groups from ramping up their lobbying this week:
- Self-driving trucks: Today, Teamsters are set to drive their trucks in a convoy to the state Capitol to urge Newsom to sign Assembly Bill 316, which would regulate self-driving big rigs and require a human backup driver (thus keeping jobs). Newsom’s decision on this bill is seen as a test of his loyalties and priorities — for the political power of unions or the economic potential of artificial intelligence. But his administration has already strongly hinted he’ll veto it.
- Maternal and mental health: Wednesday, children’s, health and labor advocates plan to be at the Capitol to lobby for four bills, including AB 608 to expand Medi-Cal benefits for new mothers and AB 665 to give children 12 years and older more rights to consent to mental health treatment.
- Gun control: Moms Demand Action, Everytown for Gun Safety and other groups want Newsom to sign AB 28, which would levy an 11% retail tax on guns and ammunition that is projected to raise $160 million a year for gun violence prevention programs.
- Abortion: The Legislative Women’s Caucus is pushing for bills sponsored by the Future of Abortion Council to strengthen abortion access. Newsom has already signed SB 385 to allow trained physician assistants to conduct surgical abortions without direct supervision by a physician. The caucus and council want 11 other bills, including SB 487, which would prohibit health insurers and the state from penalizing medical providers who have been sanctioned in other states for performing abortions that are otherwise legal in California.
- Paid leave: The California Chamber of Commerce is urging Newsom to veto six bills on its usually successful “job killer” list, including SB 616 that would increase the number of paid sick days employers must provide to workers from at least three a year to five and SB 799 that would make workers who have been on strike for at least two weeks eligible to collect unemployment benefits. These are key bills on which labor unions defeated business interests in the Legislature this session, so now the chamber and others are looking to Newsom.
- Cannabis: Public health advocates are pushing AB 1207, which seeks to address a surge of child poisonings by barring cannabis products from using packaging similar to candy or soda, or that could otherwise make products attractive to kids.
In all, about 900 bills are on Newsom’s desk for his decisions, with an Oct. 14 deadline.
One potential factor: Last year, in issuing vetoes, the governor repeatedly cited the need for fiscal discipline with lower-than-expected state revenues. And that was before the $30 billion-plus budget deficit this year.
But on Monday, his state Department of Finance reported that revenues came in more than $1.3 billion, or 11%, above projections in August, putting the state on track in the first two months of the fiscal year. While the approved state budget accounts for the tax filing deadline being extended to October for Californians impacted by the winter storms, it’s possible that revenues could surge again in September.
In any case, CalMatters is keeping track of key bills. Bookmark this page for updates.
CalMatters events: Join us today at noon to hear about the push for prison rehabilitation programs and how well they’re working. Register here to attend in person at our Sacramento offices or to watch remotely. And find out about three more events in October.
Other Stories You Should Know
1 Newsom on the national stage
Speaking of Newsom, he is absolutely, positively, definitely not running for president in 2024.
But he’s still drawn to the national stage like a moth to a flame.
After a high-profile Climate Week event Sunday with a New York Times reporter, Newsom talked Monday about the “caregiver economy” with Hillary Clinton, the former first lady, secretary of state, U.S. senator and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee.
Then Monday night, CNN featured an interview with Newsom on two different shows. He praised President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris (“a masterclass in terms of performance”), said that fellow Californian Harris should be on the 2024 ticket (“of course”) and dismissed his own presidential ambitions next year (“the answer is no”).
He also insisted that he hasn’t even thought about whether he would make a good president. “I’m not that guy. I’m just not,” he said.
The governor supported the United Auto Workers in their historic strike against the Big Three automakers, but continued to keep an arm’s length away from the actors’ and writers’ strike against Hollywood producers and studios.
He assailed former President Donald Trump for suggesting that Democrats support abortion rights right up until birth.
- Newsom: “It’s total BS. This is a false flag. This is where they need to go in order to get out of the mess they’ve created, because they don’t believe in fundamental choice and freedom for women.”
And he bashed Republicans in Congress — led by frequent target, Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield — for moving toward an impeachment inquiry of President Biden, while acknowledging that he doesn’t “love” the use of family connections for money, as Hunter Biden is accused of doing.
- Newsom: “Give me a break. This is student government, student government…. .This is a joke. Ready, fire, aim? I mean, this is a perversity with the founding fathers ever conceived of.”
All over TV: Newsom was also interviewed at length on NBC’s “Meet the Press” earlier this month. And in August, Newsom did his first Fox News interview in 13 years where he challenged Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to a debate, which still isn’t official.
2 Clearing a path for housing
If you had to name the number one crisis to address in California, affordable housing would likely be your guess. Housing prices and rents have skyrocketed over the past decade, even as the state’s population decreased.
But, while it has come about rather quietly, California is on the verge of welcoming most major affordable housing projects, according to CalMatters’ housing reporter Ben Christopher.
The development is not because of a single bill or a coordinated package, but a patchwork of current and former legislation that, taken together, “basically covers any flavor of affordable housing you could possibly want to build,” said Linda Mandolini, president of Eden Housing, an affordable housing development nonprofit.
But there’s another reason the bills have likely flown below the radar: Just planning more housing isn’t enough anymore.
- Assemblymember David Alvarez, a Democrat from San Diego: “The politics of where Californians are and certainly where the Legislature is — we want to see results. We want to see housing being produced.”
The bills that passed through the Legislature before it wrapped up last week tackle various roadblocks projects usually face, such as lawsuits filed under the wide-ranging California Environmental Quality Act, extensive public hearings and other forms of opposition from local governments.
Read more in Ben’s story on the bills that may quietly chip away at the state’s affordable housing crisis.
3 Non-CA patients and abortion clinic union
Even before the U.S. Supreme Court officially overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, California’s Democratic leaders began positioning the state as an abortion haven. That meant ensuring abortion access not just for Californians, but for anyone in the U.S. At one Planned Parenthood clinic in the Coachella Valley, that has led to an upstick in patients, 10% of whom are from other states such as Arizona.
California has approved more funding for clinics, but that’s going to take some time. In the meantime, clinic staff say they’re overworked and under-resourced, which led to their decision to form a union, reports CalMatters’ health care news intern Shreya Agrawal. Workers say paid time-off policies were changed, such as having to put in requests a year in advance, while others’ requests were denied due to staff shortages.
About 93% of the workers voted to join SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West. Once the results are certified, the union would represent 550 Planned Parenthood workers in Imperial, San Diego and Riverside counties, ranging from clinicians to registered nurses and licensed social workers.
- Mia Neustein, an employee at the Coachella Valley clinic: “We have been dealing with low wages, especially some of my co-workers who are on the lower-end of the pay scale, like medical assistants and our call center staff. They can’t cover their bills and are having to work multiple jobs, or they’re having to choose to leave to find a job that pays better or that respects work life balance better.”
The Coachella Valley workers join a labor movement that’s taken root at a number of other Planned Parenthood clinics in states that have protected abortion rights since the Dobbs decision.
Find out more about the union efforts in Shreya’s story.
CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: A late compromise in the Legislature settled a conflict over whether a new state agency would set wages and working conditions in the fast food industry.
Involuntary hospitalization for the mentally ill can be a form of compassion, writes Patricia Wentzel, a case manager for NAMI Sacramento and a member of the Sacramento County Mental Health Board.
Other things worth your time
Democrats jump start effort to kick Trump off California presidential ballot // Politico
Judge halts landmark CA law aimed at protecting kids online // San Francisco Chronicle
How these bills could change education in California // EdSource
Parent money and public schools: Hidden price of California education // Mercury News
How do state workers get paid? This is how the checks are cut // Sacramento Bee
Emergency room wait times in California rise to 3 hours // Axios San Francisco
How many Native American remains still need to be returned? // San Francisco Chronicle
Bill requires counties to provide pet-friendly evacuation options // Sacramento Bee
SoCal has nation’s worst smog, yet polluters avoid fines // Los Angeles Times
Oakland merchants plan 1-day strike to protest crime // San Francisco Chronicle