Ana Zavala, a kindergarten teacher, instructing students at Washington Elementary School in Lynwood in January.Credit…Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
Since the California legislative session ended last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom has been making his way through the tall stack of bills that landed on his desk.
The governor has signed off on hundreds of new laws so far. He approved major climate change legislation and rules transforming how the fast-food industry will be regulated. He legalized human composting as a new burial option for Californians. He signed a law that makes it illegal for employers to fire workers for off-the-clock cannabis use. He vowed to crack down on catalytic converter theft.
But the governor has also vetoed a number of proposals. My colleague Jill Cowan wrote about Newsom’s rejection of a pilot program that would have allowed some cities to open supervised drug-injection sites. The governor’s decision was closely watched as a signal of his political ambitions beyond California.
Newsom has through Friday to weigh in on the remaining bills, and there are bound to be additional vetoes. But today I’ll tell you about five bills the governor has already rejected and why.
S.B. 70: Mandatory kindergarten
On Sunday, Newsom vetoed this bill, which would have required children to attend kindergarten before entering first grade at a public school. Dozens of school districts and education groups supported the bill.
In his veto message, Newsom said there wasn’t room in the state budget for the mandate, which could cost up to $268 million per year.
Governors have often used cost as a reason to reject new laws, even in good budget years. But California this year stands a good chance of missing its revenue estimate this fiscal year, the state’s legislative analyst recently estimated.
“With our state facing lower-than-expected revenues over the first few months of this fiscal year, it is important to remain disciplined when it comes to spending, particularly spending that is ongoing,” Newsom said. “We must prioritize existing obligations and priorities, including education, health care, public safety and safety-net programs.”
S.B. 834: Nonprofits and the Jan. 6 insurrection
Under current law, tax-exempt nonprofits are barred from participating in illegal activity. This measure would have allowed the attorney general to strip a nonprofit of its state tax-exempt status for participating in treason or insurrection or advocating for the overthrow of the government.
In his veto message, Newsom said that while groups that participated in anti-government acts, such as the Jan. 6 insurrection, should be renounced and investigated, “these are issues that should be evaluated through the judicial system with due process and a right to a hearing.”
A.B. 1919: Free transit for students
This bill would have created a five-year program to let California students ride public transit at no cost. It would have applied to K-12 students as well as those enrolled in public colleges and universities.
In vetoing the bill, Newsom said the state’s budget could not handle the $115 million annual price tag for the program.
A.B. 2382: Light pollution
This bill aiming to reduce light pollution would have required all outdoor lights on state properties to have anti-light pollution shields, as well as motion sensors or automatic dimming or shut-off functions to limit the amount of light they project.
Newsom said the costs associated with changing light requirements at 24,000 state buildings “may cost millions of dollars not accounted for in the budget.”
Assemblyman Alex Lee, who introduced the bill, called the veto “extremely disappointing.” “This bill would have protected our night skies and migratory species, while reducing wasteful and unnecessary electricity consumption,” Lee told The Los Angeles Times.
A.B. 2550: San Joaquin Valley air quality
The San Joaquin Valley has some of the nation’s worst air and consistently fails to meet federal air pollution standards.
This proposal would have required the state’s top air watchdog, the California Air Resources Board, to intervene and assert control over the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District if it failed to meet specific federal regulations.
But Newsom called the bill “unnecessary” because the state already has oversight of the San Joaquin Valley air district.
Catherine Garoupa White, director of the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition, told The Fresno Bee that the existing review process, which Newsom has chosen to preserve, has failed to protect the San Joaquin Valley’s public health for the last 20 years.
“Gov. Newsom’s choice to ignore our pleas for the most basic of human rights — to breathe clean air — will cause continued injustices, additional lives lost, a growing population of asthmatic children and parents, as well as worsening unhealthy air for the San Joaquin Valley,” she said.
The rest of the news
Covid relief fraud: A California man was sentenced to four years in federal prison for fraudulently obtaining more than $5 million in Covid relief loans for three shell companies, The Associated Press reports.
Insurance: Top insurance companies and associations say California is risking a crisis in the nation’s automobile insurance market by refusing to approve any rate increases for more than two years, The Associated Press reports.
Academy Museum: The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures has attracted about 20 percent more people than it expected since opening in September 2021.
Homelessness: The Los Angeles City Council committee is divided on whether to stay with Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which gets funding from the federal government, Los Angeles Daily News reports.
Museum closed: The California Oil Museum in Santa Paula has been temporarily closed for more than a year as the city has tried to determine its next move for the building under a looming deadline, The Ventura County Star reports.
Fresno homicides: Fresno County had a violent weekend with six people killed in a stabbing and multiple shootings, including a baby and her teenage mother, The Fresno Bee reports.
Strike: Over 1,000 food and beverage workers at the San Francisco International Airport are now officially on strike over a lack of raises, SFist reports.
Uniform policy: A San Francisco firefighter who wore a T-shirt with the conservative catchphrase “Let’s Go Brandon” while on duty violated department policy, The Los Angeles Times reports.
What you get
For $750,000: A Spanish-style cottage in Los Angeles, a two-bedroom home in Sonoma or a fully furnished 1991 house in Joshua Tree.
What we’re eating
Double lemon chicken.
Where we’re traveling
Today’s tip comes from Maureen Arrigo, who lives in San Diego. Maureen recommends a trip to Benicia:
Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to [email protected]. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.
It’s officially fall. What do you love about the season in California? What are the best ways to enjoy fall in your corner of the state?
Email us at [email protected] with your stories, memories and recommendations.
And before you go, some good news
Gray wolves were eradicated in California in the early 20th century, but in 2011, an Oregon wolf became the first confirmed wolf in California in nearly a century.
Since then, the Golden State’s wolf population has been increasing. This year, two of the state’s three wolf packs produced litters, The Los Angeles Times reports.
“These are really wonderful moments to celebrate,” said Amaroq Weiss, senior wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity.
The Lassen pack, located in Lassen and Plumas Counties, produced five pups, while the Whaleback pack, living in Siskiyou County, had at least six, according to a report published by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The wolves live in areas threatened by wildfires, making their growth even more impressive.
“California’s wolf recovery is still really, really brand new,” Weiss told The Los Angeles Times. “It shows you that wolves can be quite resilient.”
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya
Correction: Yesterday’s newsletter said that Cyril Derreumaux was the first person to solo kayak from California to Hawaii. He was the second.
P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword.
Briana Scalia and Jaevon Williams contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].