Capitol Alert

How a handful of vetoes disappointed Gavin Newsom’s liberal California backers

From fighting President Donald Trump’s agenda to signing first-in-the nation laws that expand access to health care and regulate the gig economy, California Gov. Gavin Newsom earned no small amount of praise from liberals since he took office in January.

But not everybody on the left is happy with the governor’s job performance.

A set of bills Newsom vetoed last week earned him criticism the left. Here’s a look at the vetoes that disappointed some of Newsom’s constituents.

Hospital closures

Last weekend, Newsom vetoed a bill that would have regulated hospital closures, frustrating the influential California Nurses Association

The union’s president accused the governor of “craven submission to wealthy hospital corporations and Wall Street speculators” when he returned Assembly Bill 1014 unsigned.

AB 1014, sponsored by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, would have required that hospitals providing emergency medical services provide at least 180 days of notice before eliminating or reducing the level of those services or shutting down entirely, as well as at least 90 days notice before eliminating or relocating a supplemental service.

“I agree that hospital closures have vast impacts on communities. However, this bill would not change the fact that the state is not able to force a hospital to stay open when they are financially unable,” Newsom wrote. “I am concerned that this bill may exacerbate the financial and patient safety concerns that often lead to closures.”

California Nurses Association President Deborah Burger had sharp words for Newsom in the wake of his decision.

“With this veto, Gov. Newsom is abandoning both patients and communities. Closures force patients to travel much farther for critical care and that puts lives in grave danger,” Burger said in prepared remarks.

Stephanie Roberson, CNA’s director of government relations, said in a statement that 23 hospitals have closed or been sold off in the last four years in California.

“That’s a death sentence for many Californians because when these facilities leave, they do not return,” Roberson said. “We are concerned about the posture of this governor as he is clearly choosing what the corporate hospital industry wants over what is best for our communities and patients.”

Burger’s words might sting more than most for Newsom; the CNA endorsed his run for governor, calling him “a natural ally for nurses.”

Immigration enforcement

Assembly Bill 1282, sponsored by Assemblyman Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, would have prohibited Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation employees and contractors from allowing private security contractors to enter CDCR property for immigration enforcement purposes.

“I am concerned that provisions in this bill would negatively impact prison operations and could hinder and delay needed transfers between facilities for myriad situation-specific reasons such as medical care and court obligations,” Newsom wrote of his decision to veto the bill.

The group Asian Americans Advancing Justice disputes Newsom’s position.

“AB 1282 would have been a major step toward California fulfilling its pledge as a sanctuary state,” said Liza Chu, California policy manager for the group.

“Gov. Newsom’s decision will continue to separate families and implicate our state in facilitating unlawful arrests by private contractors for deportation purposes,” Nourn said.

Full-day kindergarten

Newsom notably broke with the left with some other high profile bills.

He vetoed Assembly Bill 197, sponsored by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego. That bill would have required schools to offer at least one full-day kindergarten program, beginning with the 2022-23 school year.

Newsom cited budget reasons for his decision to veto.

“While I support increased access to full-day kindergarten, I cannot sign this bill as it would impose new costs outside the budget,” the governor wrote.

Newsom added that the 2019 Budget Act included $300 million specifically to expand full-day kindergarten offerings.

The California Teachers Association had listed the bill as one to watch, and chose not to comment on Newsom’s decision to veto it.

Primary elections

Newsom also chose to execute his veto on a bill aimed at improving voter turnout in primary elections.

Assembly Bill 681, sponsored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, would have required county elections officials to send out notices ahead of upcoming primary elections, informing voters of their current political party preference, the type of ballot they would be able to cast in the election and instructions on how to change that preference.

The bill was aimed at preventing people from being unable to vote in a party’s primary because they did not have the right political party preference.

“While I share the Legislature’s intent to reduce voter confusion, this bill may create a state-reimburseable mandate with likely significant ongoing general fund costs to the state, thus it should be considered in the annual budget process,” Newsom wrote in his veto message.

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Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for the Sacramento Bee. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.