SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – California Governor Gavin Newsom spent the summer campaigning to keep his job and, with a landslide victory in hand, he continued to push progressive California further to the left.
Within four weeks of pushing back a recall attempt, the Democrat signed laws that require non-sexist postings children’s toys and toothbrushes in department stores, made illegal removing a condom without consent during sex and paved the way for a first national ban on sale of new leaf blowers and gasoline lawn mowers.
He also made illegal film someone near an abortion clinic for intimidation purposes, prohibited secret employment agreements involving harassment or discrimination and limited the use of rubber bullets by the police during demonstrations. He even banned restaurants from distributing ketchup packets and other disposable condiments unless customers request them.
California is one of the deepest blue states in the country – Democrats control all state offices and have a super majority in the Legislature, which today often serves as a laboratory for liberal policies that do not would not be voted on in many other states. The governor wields immense power over what becomes law, as California lawmakers rarely override vetoes.
If it had been a normal year without an election, Newsom might have been more cautious ahead of his 2022 re-election campaign. But in early September, barely three days after the governor’s 30-day period to revise the election began. legislation, Newsom convincingly rebuffed Republican-led efforts to oust him.
Just three days after this election, Newsom signed two laws aimed at limiting the zoning of single-family homes in California, a radical change for a state with many communities that define suburban sprawl but now faces a shortage of affordable housing.
In total, Newsom has signed 92% of the bills lawmakers have tabled on his desk – the highest percentage in his three years in office, according to an analysis by veteran lobbyist Chris Micheli, who has followed vetoes of governors for years.
The result has been “tons of progressive laws and tons of virtual signals,” said Bill Whalen, a policy researcher at the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank at Stanford University.
“Traditionally, we have governors who have been more centrist than Newsom,” he said. “With the recall over, this is a governor who is not really threatened in any way.”
But what counts as progressive in most of the country may be considered moderate in California.
Newsom angered many on the left wing of the state with his veto, including block an invoice this would have required the state’s entrepreneurs to confirm that their supply chains are not contributing to tropical deforestation.
He also deleted a bill that would have made legal jaywalking, a move that advocates have ruled necessary because police disproportionately arrest and verbalize black people for the offense.
And he ended a bill that would have allowed agricultural workers to vote by mail in union elections, a move that made some workers so angry they marched in protests t at the French Laundry, the chic San Francisco Bay Area restaurant where Newsom was pictured having dinner without a mask during the pandemic. Newsom’s scene with lobbyist friends while telling others to stay home helped the recall effort.
In the weeks leading up to the recall, lawmakers said the Newsom administration was unusually involved in the legislative process, prompting a wave of amendments to tailor the bills to its liking. He signed a law making California the first state to ban mega-retailers like Amazon from laying off workers for missing quotas that interfere with restroom and rest breaks.
But he insisted that lawmakers remove language ordering regulators to impose a statewide standard on reasonable working speeds, according to MK Lorena Gonzalez, the bill’s author.
“From someone who probably considers himself to the left of this governor,… I don’t think he’s gone that far,” said Gonzales, a Democrat from San Diego and chairman of the powerful Assembly Appropriations Committee. . “If you look at some of the invoices, as they started, and then where they ended up because of the administration’s contributions, then… you kind of see what’s going on.”
Lawmakers haven’t sent Newsom as many invoices as they normally would. The pandemic limited where and how often lawmakers could hold committee hearings, prompting legislative leaders to limit lawmakers to drafting 12 bills each. And it was the first year of a two-year legislative session, so many of the more controversial proposals have been delayed for consideration until next year.
A bill would have eliminated the crime of loitering with intent to prostitute, according to advocates of the law, which targets black women and transgender people. The law project passed the legislature, but the author has decided not to send it to Newsom at this time.
Gonzalez believes lawmakers “had a lot of self-regulation” during the session, aware that forcing polarizing questions on Newsom could hurt him in the recall election.
But Senator Sydney Kamlager, a Democrat from Los Angeles, said few lawmakers would have delayed the bills because they worried about the impact it would have on Newsom’s political future, saying ” lawmakers also have an ego. She said the governor was “still involved” in the legislation.
“You would want a governor or an administration to be involved, you know, because a policy that doesn’t fit or can’t be implemented ends up being a dream,” she said.
Next year, Lawmakers could send Newsom legislation to regulate healthcare prices and impose COVID vaccine or testing mandates on employers, decisions the governor must make in the midst of his re-election campaign. But those decisions might be easier for Newsom now that the recall has asserted his political strength, despite protests from Republicans. Newsom defeated the recall attempt by more than 60% of the vote.
“Life has gotten harder and more expensive for families, but Democrats are focusing on things like banning take-out ketchup packages and gasoline lawn mowers,” Republican Senate Leader Scott said. Wilk. “Hopefully 2022 brings some common sense to Sacramento.”