Home>Articles>Frequently Asked Questions about Signing Messages by California Governors

Gov. Gavin Newsom signs bills into law. (Photo: gov.ca.gov)

Frequently Asked Questions about Signing Messages by California Governors

Why might a Governor provide a signing message?

By Chris Micheli, November 11, 2023 6:53 am

What is a signing message? Despite no constitutional provision, Governors in this state have long used “signing messages” to accompany a Governor’s signature on a bill.

What is an example of a signing message? The following is an example of a bill from the 2022 Legislative Session that Governor Newsom signed:

To the Members of the California State Senate:

I am signing Senate Bill 851, which makes technical changes that will allow taxpayers paying the Elective Pass-Through Entity Tax to fully utilize their Other State Tax Credit. These changes are clarifying of actions made this year through SB 113 {Chapter 3), a budget trailer bill. 

Although this modification may result in a revenue reduction, I am signing this bill to clarify implementation so the Franchise Tax Board can execute the program in a manner that is consistent with previous legislative action. Maintaining structural balance and resiliency of the state budget is on ongoing challenge. In the future, bills with a significant fiscal impact, and particularly tax law changes, should be considered and accounted for as part of the annual budget process.

Sincerely, Gavin Newsom

Why might a Governor provide a signing message? Perhaps to explain why the Governor signed a bill, or to request additional law changes, or to explain why a bill was not vetoed (e.g., the signing message set forth above).

Are there examples of California courts citing gubernatorial signing messages in their appellate court decisions? Yes, such as Gerawan Farming, Inc. v. Agricultural Labor Relations Bd., 3 Cal. 5th 1118, 1132 (2017) and Arias v. Kardoulias, 207 Cal. App. 4th 1429, 1435 (2012).

Have any California courts used signing messages as legislative history? Yes, at least one California Court of Appeal has characterized a gubernatorial signing message as legislative history. Nguyen v. Nguyen, 158 Cal. App. 4th 1636, 1660 (2008).

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Spread the news:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *