A bill that would have required the State of California to give an elected official who is the subject of a recall election the names and addresses of every voter who signed the petition was removed from consideration this year following mounting public backlash.
Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton), the author of Senate Bill 663, introduced the bill earlier this year and had hoped that it would have given recalled lawmakers a chance to personally ask signers if they knew what they had signed it for. The Senator had personally been recalled before in 2018 over a gas tax bill, and has alleged that the petition against him had been misleading to many signers, spurring the need for SB 663.
However, the bill has received a large amount of public backlash since being introduced. While SB 663 made it clear that it would not apply to this years petition to recall Governor Gavin Newsom, many who oppose the bill have said that there is no guarantee that the language would stay the same, and that the bill could be used to intimidate possible recall petition signers in the future and violates privacy rights.
Recall supporters of Governor Newsom led the opposition against the bill, with some, such as Orrin Heatlie, the primary organizer for the RecallGavin2020 campaign, even testifying against SB 663 last week.
“This is an outright attack on people’s right to privacy and serves only to intimidate those would be petitioners from signing or goad people who signed to rescind their signatures in fear of retaliation or retribution,” expressed Heatlie on Tuesday.
Opposition against SB 663
Despite being passed in the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee 4-1 last week, so many Californians came out against the bill that Senator Newman finally decided to pull the bill on Tuesday shortly before a scheduled Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
“The environment is so charged around the recall that it made it hard to have a thoughtful discussion around this bill,” said Senator Newman on Tuesday. “They were sort of leveraging this bill and representing this bill as an attack on not just the recall but on them and their constitutional rights. It wasn’t a good context to have a conversation.”
Despite being pulled for the rest of the year, Senator Newman currently has plans to make it into a two-year bill, meaning that it may come back up for a vote next year, well after the 2021 Governor recall election.
“Newman expects that the pressure will fade away after the recall election since it’s such a political live wire right now,” said State Capitol staffer “Dana,” to the Globe. “But the fact that there are many recall petitions going around, with more very likely in the near future, means that there will still be a significant number of people waiting to oppose the bill again if it comes back up. I think he’s just hoping that it will all blow over by this time next year.”
Recall supporters such have Heatlie have vowed to come up again to oppose SB 663 if it comes back next year.
However, for those against SB 663, many still celebrated the halting of the bill on Tuesday and Wednesday, as it removed any chance that it could be applied to this years recall petition.
“The bill to expose the name and address of Recall petition signers has been withdrawn,” tweeted Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) on Tuesday. “Thanks to everyone who spoke out against this latest abuse.”
The bill to expose the name and address of Recall petition signers has been withdrawn. Thanks to everyone who spoke out against this latest abuse.
— Kevin Kiley (@KevinKileyCA) April 20, 2021
SB 663 is expected to be made into a two-year bill soon in order to be allowed to come back next session.