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
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Chair of the Board of Equalization
- More on Underground Regulations in California - November 30, 2023
- Frequently Asked Questions about California Bond Measures - November 29, 2023
- Key Considerations in California Emergency Rulemaking - November 28, 2023