Gavin Newsom
California Gov. Gavin Newsom / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Gov. Gavin Newsom had already made his intentions clear on SB 1, the bill written by San Diego Senate Pro Tem Leader Toni Atkins that would create certain environmental baseline standards in case the Trump administration rolled back regulations. Newsom said he planned to veto the bill back in September.

But he’d recently come under a good deal of scrutiny for that announcement – enough that some wondered whether he might have a change of heart. Here’s how VOSD’s Ry Rivard described it:

Now, though, Newsom is under a lot of pressure to sign the bill into law rather than veto it. The Los Angeles Times said Newsom “just decided to carry Trump’s water.” San Diego labor leader Jerry Butkiewicz wrote about the litany of reasons the governor should sign it.

Perhaps the most impassioned piece I’ve read is from Caleen Sisk, the spiritual leader and tribal chief of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe in Northern California.

“Earlier this year, we, like many other tribal people in California, felt gratitude when Gov. Newsom apologized for the genocide that California waged against Indians. He issued an executive order to create the Truth and Healing Commission,” Sisk wrote in the Sacramento Bee. “But if the governor vetoes SB 1, he will continue that history of genocide.”

But Newsom wasn’t swayed.

In his message vetoing the bill, he wrote that he disagreed the measure was necessary, and objected to the suggestion that he was doing a favor to Trump by rejecting it:

California is a leader in the fight for resource, environmental, and worker protections. Since 2017, the federal government has repeatedly tried to override and invalidate those protections, and each time, the state has aggressively countered – taking immediate legal action and deploying every tool at the state’s disposal to safeguard our natural resources, environmental protections and workers. No other state has fought harder to defeat Trump’s environmental policies, and that will continue to be the case.

  • Newsom also vetoed AB 1249 by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, which would have created a pilot program that would exempt risk-bearing provider groups taking on global risk from full licensure under the Knox-Keane Act. His veto message can be found here.

Plenty of other bills, however, have gotten an OK from Newsom over the last week. He has until Oct. 13 to sign or veto all of the bills from this session. Here are the latest measures from San Diego lawmakers that have been signed into law:

  • SB 165 by Atkins requires the Department of Health Care Services to establish a pilot project to evaluate medical interpretation services, to happen concurrently with an existing study to identify requirements for medical interpretation services and recommend strategies for improving.
  • SB 507 by Atkins transfers patches of land around San Diego Bay from the state to the Port of San Diego to manage, with the goal of creating more consistency around land use decisions along the bay and to allow the Port to enforce environmental protections in those areas.
  • SB 679 by Sen. Pat Bates streamlines the process for licensed professional clinical counselors, marriage and family therapists and clinical social workers in other states to become licensed in California.
  • SB 690 by Sen. Ben Hueso encourages the State Coastal Conservancy to prioritize funding for water quality issues in the Tijuana River Valley.
  • SB 208 by Hueso sets a deadline of Jan. 1, 2021 for telecommunications providers to implement Caller ID authentication measures that can help identify illegal robocalls.
  • SB 457 by Hueso extends an existing incentive program for biomethane projects administered by the California Public Utilities Commission.
  • AB 170 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez is a compromise measure to complement AB 5, the bill limiting when employers can classify workers as independent contractors. This bill exempts newspaper publishers and distributors from AB 5 for one year.
  • AB 426 by Maienschein prohibits a licensed health care professional from charging a fee for the completion of the medical certification form required to be eligible for in-home supportive services.
  • AB 960 by Maienschein expands the type of housing for which a CalWORKs homeless assistance payment can be made.
  • AB 686 by Assemblywoman Marie Waldron clarifies requirements pertaining to the out-of-home placement of Indian children, and requires the Judicial Council to adopt rules of court allowing for an Indian child’s tribe to participate remotely in proceedings.
  • AB 1352 by Waldron requires mental health boards to report directly to the county governing body and grants the boards autonomy to act, review and report independently from the county mental health departments or county behavioral health departments.
  • AB 701 by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber provides a person who is exonerated of a crime $5,000 upon release from prison to be used to pay for housing, and entitles the person to receive direct payment or reimbursement for reasonable housing costs for up to four years.
  • AB 703 by Weber waives fees for California public colleges and universities for people who were wrongfully imprisoned.

How the Vaccine and Private Prison Bills Could Play Out in San Diego

The wildly controversial law limiting medical vaccine exemptions was inspired by a Voice of San Diego investigation revealing a single doctor was responsible for writing nearly one-third of the exemptions in San Diego Unified. But that doctor isn’t the only one who’ll likely be impacted by the new law when it goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

From VOSD’s Will Huntsberry:

If the law were in effect today, it would have big implications on the ground. In San Diego, 19 schools and six doctors would come under review, according to data from the California Department of Public Health and other documents obtained by Voice of San Diego. Dozens of medical exemptions would likely be revoked for falling outside the scope of generally recognized standards of care.

Meanwhile, the San Diego impacts of another high-profile measure that has not yet been signed by Newsom are far less clear.

AB 32 would ban private prisons from operating in the state. In San Diego, private prison companies run or have involvement with five facilities – yet, as VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan explains, no one seems to know how the bill would impact those facilities, or whether it would at all.

Some of the facilities are re-entry programs, which are exempted in the bill. Others are federal facilities that contract with private companies. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, one of the authors of the bill, said she’s not sure the bill could withstand a legal challenge from the federal government if it contested a mandate to stop using private companies.

“If the federal government has a contract, I’m not sure we’ll be able to prevent that if it’s on their land,” Gonzalez said. “I’m assuming it would end up in litigation.”

Golden State News

Sara Libby

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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