Home>Articles>Second-ever California Bills Signed by a Senate Leader

State Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins addressing the 2019 California Democratic Party State Convention at the George R. Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, June 1, 2019. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Second-ever California Bills Signed by a Senate Leader

First in line after the Lt. Governor is Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins

By Chris Micheli, July 6, 2023 1:52 pm

Earlier today, July 6, California State Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), who is serving as Acting Governor as Governor Newsom and Lt. Governor Kounalakis are out of the state, held a bill signing ceremony this morning.

The Acting Governor signed the following bills:

  • AB 588 (Speaker Rivas) – Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency Act: board members
  • 354 (Stephanie Nguyen) – Sacramento Regional Transit District: Td of directors: membership
  • AB 410 (Reggie Jones-Sawyer) – Shared mobility devices

Senator Atkins is the second Senate leader (who is third in line to the Governorship) to sign legislation. The first was in 1976 by then Senate President pro Tempore James Mills.

Article V, Section 10 of the California Constitution provides that the Lieutenant Governor becomes “Acting Governor” during impeachment, absence from the state, or other temporary disability of the Governor. In addition, Section 10 states, “The Legislature shall provide an order of precedence after the Lieutenant Governor for succession to the office of Governor and for the temporary exercise of the Governor’s functions.”

First in line after the Lt. Governor is the Senate President pro Tempore, who is Senator Atkins. Because neither the Governor nor the Lt. Governor are in the state at this time, Senator Atkins is currently the Acting Governor and has all the same power as Governor Newsom does when he is in this state, including the power to sign or veto legislation.

Government Code Title 2, Division 3, Part 2, Chapter 1, Article 5.5 deals with Succession to the Office of Governor. Gov’t Code Section 12058 provides the line of succession when there is a vacancy, impeachment, of a state constitutional officer acting as the Governor. In other words, this must be a case of both the Governor and Lt. Governor having a temporary disability or being absent from the state.

In such a case, “then the powers and duties of the office of Governor devolve upon the same officer as in the case of vacancy in the office of Governor, but only until the disability shall cease.” As a result, once either the Governor or the Lt. Governor returns to the state, then he (Gov. Newsom) is Governor or she (Lt. Governor Kounalakis) is Acting Governor.

The following is the line of succession:

President pro Tempore of the Senate

Speaker of the Assembly

Secretary of State

Attorney General



Superintendent of Public Instruction

Insurance Commissioner

Chair of the Board of Equalization

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One thought on “Second-ever California Bills Signed by a Senate Leader

  1. Why are Democrats Governor Newsom and Lt. Governor Kounalakis are out of the state…and where are they? Maybe they were attending the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Tianjin, China, June 27-29 to discuss the latest ideas for promoting the oppression and destruction of humanity? The three-day event attended by over 1,550 participants, hailed by some as “Summer Davos,” started out with roaring applause for Dr. Evil himself, Klaus Schwab.

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