California Senate Republicans celebrated a small victory this session as Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed six major bills, despite facing opposition from the majority of Democrats in both houses. While Newsom signed around 85% of the bills that reached his desk this year, approximately 15% were ultimately vetoed, with the majority of those being authored by Democrats.
Minority Leader Brian Jones (D-San Diego) spearheaded the effort to secure vetos on several bills in the Senate. These bills included SB 58, which aimed to decriminalize various plant-based and naturalistic psychedelic drugs, and SB 81, which would have compelled courts to override the Governor and parole boards to release prisoners early from prison. Senator Aisha Wahab’s SB 403 sought to prohibit caste and ancestry discrimination at the governmental level, while AB 1604, authored by Assemblywoman Mia Bonta, aimed to impose stricter restrictions on charter school building funding. Additionally, SB 541 intended to provide free condoms to high school students, and SB 596 aimed to impose penalties on parents speaking out at school board meetings.
Senate Republicans, led by Senator Jones, had sent veto request letters to Governor Newsom last month on all six bills. While it is unclear whether these letters directly influenced Newsom’s decision to veto the bills, it is plausible that they played a role.
Although Governor Newsom provided reasons for each veto, including financial concerns and issues with bill language, there is speculation that the Republican veto request letters may have influenced his decisions. While Newsom did not explicitly mention the letters in his statements, it is possible that they contributed to his consideration of different viewpoints and ultimately influenced his veto decisions.
In total, Newsom vetoed 169 bills during this legislative session. The successful vetoes celebrated by Senate Republicans demonstrate a rare instance of bipartisan agreement on important issues and highlight the power of collaboration in influencing policy outcomes. Whether the veto request letters directly impacted Newsom’s decisions or simply added to the diverse range of perspectives he considered, it is encouraging to see bipartisan dialogue and compromise in the legislative process.