By ALEXEI KOSEFF, CalMatters
As California’s legislative session comes to an end tonight, the priorities and focus of the closing days have been heavily shaped by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who in the final year of his first term has taken significant steps to execute his agenda through legislation like never before.
His first three years in office saw Newsom frequently pursue policy through executive orders or in the state budget process, a negotiation with the Legislature that provided him with greater leverage.
But the governor’s biggest priority this year has arguably been the passage of a sweeping proposal, known as CARE Court, to compel people with serious mental health issues into treatment and housing. And in recent weeks, he asked lawmakers to take up ambitious new climate and energy measures, including one that would delay the closure of California’s last nuclear power plant.
A half dozen bills Newsom has sought were sent to his desk this week or await final approval before the Legislature gavels down tonight. They include some of the most complex and contentious issues that remain.
The shift in the governor’s approach, according to lawmakers and others who have worked with Newsom, is likely due to some combination of necessity and opportunity — a desire to establish a stronger legal foundation and longer-lasting impact for his policies, deeper relationships with the Legislature after years at the Capitol, a chance to return to campaign promises sidelined by an all-consuming coronavirus pandemic. There is also his reelection campaign — he will face voters again in November — plus the growing national speculation over Newsom’s potential presidential aspirations, which would benefit from bulking up his record of accomplishments.
“The governor has, as we hope any governor would have, a real passion to get results and to try to solve the problems that are at the forefront of Californians’ minds. And they’re not issues that anybody in the Legislature disagrees with,” said state Sen. Susan Talamentes Eggman, a Stockton Democrat who is helping to shepherd the CARE Court bill.
“I certainly feel this pressure, as polarized as things are,” she said. “It’s really incumbent upon us to show that government can work, that government can solve problems and really address the needs that are so present in people’s live
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