Voters hoping for a quick and immediate transition of power should the recall election be successful next week will need to wait as much as 38 days for the next Governor to be sworn in according to the Secretary of State’s office.
Currently, hundreds of bills are currently awaiting the Governor’s signature in Sacramento. While Newsom has signed off on some, such as SB 26, a now-law that moves up the start date for NCAA athlete compensation in California, many others are awaiting.
Among the most prominent bills are the controversial SB 9 and SB 10 that aim to increase housing in California by changing single family rezoning and allowable housing units laws, SB 16, which would expand public access to police records, AB 570 that would allow dependent parents to be added to the insurance plans of their adult children, and AB 122, a bill that changes stop sign laws for bicyclists across the state.
Governor Gavin Newsom has until October 10th to come to a decision on all the bills on his desk. In a normal year, Governors usually follow the pattern of a slow but steady rollout of signed and vetoed bills, with the final week before the signature deadline seeing a huge flurry of catch-up on all remaining bills.
However, with the recall election currently going on, Newsom has been off pace on bill decisions due to campaigning against the recall across California. And with the recall on the 14th, the next week will likely see few, if any, vetoes or signings. This has led many to hope that, if the recall is successful, the next Governor will have the power to make the decision.
“We’ve had a lot of people call in or e-mail or message us about this,” explained “Dana,” a State Capitol staffer, to the Globe on Wednesday. “People ask about these bills and ask if Elder or the next Governor will veto these. We have to tell them no. So many think that the recall instantly kicks people out, but it doesn’t. There’s been a lot of, I’ll say testy conversations on this in the last several weeks.”
According to the Secretary of State’s office, the reality is, if the recall is successful on September 14th, the new Governor would not be sworn in for 38 days. This election certification transition period ensures that Newsom, regardless of election results, would make the call on all bills currently waiting for his decision.
“County elections officials have 30 days after the election to complete the official canvass,” writes the Secretary of State’s office on the recall. “On the 38th day after the election, if the recall is successful, the Secretary of State will certify the election results, and the new governor would take the oath of office and assume the position for the remainder of the term (through January 2, 2023).”
This timeline has even show precedence in the past. In the last Gubernatorial Recall election in 2003, voters elected to recall then-Governor Gray Davis and selected Arnold Schwarzenegger to replace him on October 7th. However, Schwarzenegger wasn’t sworn in until November 17th, allowing Davis to have roughly another 5 weeks in office as a lame duck Governor.
But, unlike 2003, a delay on signing any bills close to the elections is playing a big factor.
“There are a lot of bills that Newsom can sign that would make a lot of undecided or independent voters very unhappy this close to election day,” explained Francisco Garvey, a Stockton lawyer who has consulted on Assembly and Senate bills in the past. “That’s why we’re not seeing many being signed, with the ones that are either being non-contentious or very minute in their changes or who they effect. If Newsom stays, all of those bills on his desk will have Newsom burning the midnight oil to decide on for nearly a month, so he’s not going to have a lot of time to decompress from the election. It’s what the law is.”
Should the recall be successful, the new Governor will be begin deciding on bills beginning with January 2022 session barring any emergency decisions.
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