Why Newsom Said No to These Bills

Proposals the governor vetoed included decriminalizing jaywalking, boosting family-leave payments and expanding college financial aid.,


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Drivers, cyclists and pedestrians in downtown Sacramento.Credit…Max Whittaker for The New York Times

Even the most dedicated news junkies can’t be blamed for not keeping track of all the bills that Gov. Gavin Newsom has recently weighed in on.

Over the past month, Newsom signed a whopping 770 bills into law, including a new high school ethnic studies requirement, a ban on mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes and a measure allowing the state to strip bad police officers of their badges.

But what’s gotten far less attention are the bills that Newsom declined to sign. Sixty-six measures didn’t receive his OK — about 8 percent of the ones he considered — including some that legislators thought were slam dunks, according to CalMatters.

The Legislature has the power to override a governor’s veto, but it hasn’t done so in more than 40 years — and isn’t expected to this session.

Here’s a look at the failed proposals and why Newsom vetoed them:

Assembly Bill 1238: Decriminalizing jaywalking

This bill would have removed fines for crossing the street outside of a crosswalk unless there’s imminent danger. Supporters said that the police used jaywalking laws as pretext to detain people for no good reason.

But Newsom worried the law could unintentionally increase the state’s already high rate of pedestrian fatalities.

He wrote in his veto that he was committed to working on legislation “that addresses the unequal enforcement of jaywalking laws in a manner that does not risk worsening California’s pedestrian safety.”

A.B. 122: Allowing cyclists to roll through stop signs

Newsom also made a safety argument for this bill, which would have allowed cyclists to treat stop signs as yields. Supporters had said it was a common-sense measure that’s already been put into place in other parts of the country.

But the governor said he feared that the legislation intended to increase bicyclist safety would have “the opposite effect.”

A.B. 123: Boosting family-leave payments

This bill would have increased how much money workers receive while taking paid family leave. Currently, the payments are too small for low-wage workers to afford to take advantage of the benefit, CalMatters reports.

But in his veto message, Newsom said the expansion would create significant new costs for workers and the state.

The bill’s author, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, responded in a statement: “Until we make reforms to the program, low- and middle-income families will continue to be left behind, while their tax dollars subsidize paid family leave for higher-income workers.”

A.B. 1456: Expanding college financial aid

This measure would have significantly loosened eligibility requirements for college financial aid so that tens of thousands of additional students could receive assistance.

But Newsom deemed the proposal, expected to cost between $85 million to $175 million a year, too pricey. In his veto, he suggested that such a change be made through the annual budgeting process.


Farmworkers in Riverside County.Credit…Ariana Drehsler for The New York Times

A.B. 616: Allowing farmworkers to vote to unionize by mail

Under this measure, farmworkers would have been able to mail in or drop off ballot cards for union elections with the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board office, instead of having to vote in person.

Newsom vetoed the bill because of what he called “various inconsistencies and procedural issues” and said he would work to develop new legislation to help protect agricultural workers’ right to collectively bargain.

Unions are linked to higher wages and better benefits, yet virtually no farmworkers are unionized, CalMatters reports. The governor’s decision disappointed many farmworkers who supported him in the recall.

Senate Bill 660: Barring paid signature gathering

This bill probably would have made it more difficult for initiatives and recall attempts to qualify for the ballot, such as the one that Newsom survived last month.

But in his veto, Newsom said that paying signature gatherers based on how many signatures they obtain is the most affordable way for people to get measures on the ballot: Banning the practice “could therefore make the qualification of many initiatives cost-prohibitive for all but the wealthiest interests.”

Other proposals vetoed include:

Paying drug users to stay sober.

Allowing cannabis advertising on freeway billboards.

Requiring businesses to prove they’re not contributing to tropical deforestation.

Creating non-hospital facilities for young people experiencing mental health crises.

If you read one story, make it this

This year’s largest blaze, the Dixie fire, created its own weather. We show you in 3-D.


A view of Kings Canyon National Park’s Grant Grove, which burned in the 2015 Rough fire.Credit…Max Whittaker for The New York Times

The rest of the news

Guest essay: Has climate change cut us off from the wilderness in California?

Drought emergency: Gov. Gavin Newsom extended a statewide drought emergency amid new data that shows Californians are failing to reach water conservation goals.

Supply-chain snarls: Vaccine mandates could stop supply-chain woes at the ports, writes Paul Krugman, a Times opinion columnist.

Education relief funds: A state audit found that California might need to return up to $160 million in pandemic relief money meant for schools, The Sacramento Bee reports.


Port backlog: A record 100 container ships were waiting to unload at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on Tuesday, ABC7 reports.

Dave Chappelle protest: A rally is scheduled for this morning outside of Netflix’s Los Angeles headquarters amid anger over Dave Chappelle’s latest comedy special.

More immigrant arrests: California border patrol agents stopped more migrants at sea near the state’s southern border last year than in the previous three years, The Los Angeles Times reports.


Cilantro boom: California’s cilantro yield has doubled in the past 15 years as its popularity has increased with an expanding Mexican food scene, The Merced Sun-Star reports.


Making history: Eun Sun Kim, the first woman to serve as music director of the San Francisco Opera, discusses her vision for the future.

Vaccine incentive: San Francisco State University is offering free tuition to 10 prospective students — as long as they get their Covid-19 shots, The San Francisco Examiner reports.

San Jose controversy: The city is considering removing a statue of its former mayor Thomas Fallon, who helped capture California during the Mexican-American War, amid complaints that it glorifies imperialism, The Mercury News reports.


Credit…Romulo Yanes for The New York Times

What we’re eating

This broccoli and Cheddar soup.


Credit…Jason Henry for The New York Times

Where we’re traveling

In Sonoma County, winegrowers are embracing “regenerative agriculture.”

How to see, and taste, the fruits of their labors.

What we’re reading

A new book by Adam Schiff, a Democratic congressman from California.

Tell us

I’m headed to San Diego soon to do some reporting. What should I write about?

Email me suggestions at CAtoday@nytimes.com.

And before you go, some good news

Monarch butterflies, which typically migrate to the West Coast ahead of winter, once numbered in the millions in California. But last year, fewer than 2,000 were found along the state’s coast.

In recent months, however, environmental groups have spotted more of the distinctive orange-and-black butterflies than they did in 2020, USA Today reports.

“These are very early numbers, so we need to be cautious to not read too much into this,” Scott Hoffman Black, executive director of the conservation group Xerces Society, told the news outlet. “But the numbers do lend some hope that we could see a slight rebound.”

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Fruit that’s black when ripe (5 letters).

Steven Moity and Mariel Wamsley contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.

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