The countdown has begun.
Today is the final day of the two-year legislative session in Sacramento, so lawmakers have until midnight to pass hundreds of pending bills that cover issues including criminal justice, abortion and Covid vaccines. It’s going to be busy.
Already on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk are dozens of proposals that have successfully made it through the Legislature in recent weeks. And many of the bills awaiting his signature — or veto — have drawn both strong support and steadfast opposition.
Last week, Newsom nixed a high-profile bill that would have allowed some California cities to open supervised drug-injection sites. His decision was closely watched as a signal of his political ambitions beyond California.
Today I’ll walk you through some of the other proposals Newsom is probably weighing, including two contentious labor bills and what would be the nation’s most sweeping law to seal criminal records.
The governor has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto these proposals.
A.B. 2799: Rap lyrics as evidence
This bill would restrict the use of rap lyrics and other creative works as evidence in criminal proceedings. The issue gained renewed attention recently after the indictments in Georgia of the Atlanta rappers Young Thug and Gunna on gang-related charges for which prosecutors drew on the men’s lyrics.
The California measure would apply broadly to any creative works, including other types of music, poetry, film, dance, performance art, visual art and novels. Read more from The New York Times.
A.B. 2183: Voting in union elections
Farmworkers completed a 355-mile march from the Central Valley to Sacramento this month to show support for this bill, which the Legislature passed on Monday.
The proposal would give farmworkers the option to vote by mail in union elections instead of through in-person elections that typically take place on a grower’s property. Requiring on-premises voting allows for the possibility of voter suppression and retaliation, unions say.
Newsom vetoed a similar proposal last year and, in recent days, his staff has suggested that he remains opposed to the latest version. But Dolores Huerta, who co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, told The Sacramento Bee that she feels Newsom will sign the bill because “Gavin wants to be president.”
A.B. 257: A tighter rein on fast-food chains
This measure would transform the way the service sector is regulated by creating a council to set wages and improve working conditions for fast-food workers. The fast-food industry lobbied heavily against the bill, while unions furiously fought for it.
“In my view, it’s one of the most significant pieces of state employment legislation that’s passed in a long time,” Kate Andrias, a labor law expert at Columbia University, told my colleague Noam Scheiber.
Newsom hasn’t taken an official position on the bill.
S.B. 951: Boosting family-leave payments
In 2002, California became the first state in the nation to implement paid family leave. But low-wage workers rarely take advantage of the benefit because the payments are too small, CalMatters reports.
This proposal would increase the earnings that low-wage workers receive while on family leave, so three years from now workers would receive up to 90 percent of their pay.
Newsom vetoed a similar bill last fall citing “significant new costs.”
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 allow the attorney general to strip a nonprofit of its tax-exempt status for participating in treason or insurrection or advocating the overthrow of the government. It would apply to state taxes, not federal taxes.
“Taxpayers should not be subsidizing nonprofits that engage in or incite insurrection,” State Senator Scott Wiener, who wrote the bill, told The San Francisco Chronicle.
S.B. 731: Sealing criminal records
This bill would allow people convicted of a felony to have their records automatically sealed if they complete all terms of their court sentence and remain conviction-free for at least four years. People arrested but not charged with a crime could also have their records sealed.
State Senator Maria Elena Durazo, a Los Angeles Democrat who wrote the bill, said that people often suffer long after they have paid the price for their crimes because California maintains conviction records for decades.
“They’ve done what they’ve been asked to do, why should they continue to be punished?” Durazo said in an interview with The San Francisco Chronicle. “We’re holding them back. Whatever hope and motivation they have to move forward, it’s uphill.”
Where we’re traveling
Today’s tip comes from Skip and Karen Hubbard, who live in Connecticut:
“With a daughter who is San Francisco-based, we have tried to get West at least annually for the last 25 years. It’s a rare time that we don’t go an hour north to Point Reyes for a day trip or even to rent for a week. For us it has it all … a variety of hikes with vistas, animals and weather that are unpredictable and never get old … can’t wait to get back again.”
Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.
Californians: Have growing concerns about climate change affected how you live your life? Have you made any changes? If so, we want to hear about them. (Have you adjusted any daily routines, changed your job or made new financial decisions?)
Email us at CAToday@nytimes.com. Please include your name and the city you live in.
This is part of a live event that The Times is hosting in San Francisco on Oct. 12 examining our collective response to the climate challenge. Learn more.
And before you go, some good news
Of the 24 creations in California designed by the famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the most well-known is arguably the Hollyhock House in Los Angeles. When eight major Wright works were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List a few years ago, this small house in East Hollywood’s Barnsdall Art Park was among them.
After being closed for two years because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Hollyhock House reopened to the public this month. The Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs used the hiatus to complete restoration and improvement projects at the home, which was commissioned in 1918 by the oil heiress Aline Barnsdall, The Los Angeles Times reports.