California’s November elections are finally set

Poll worker Sofia Bisogno sorts election materials at Ana's Barber Shop on March 5, 2024, in San Francisco. Photo by Juliana Yamada for CalMatters

Appointment note: WhatMatters is celebrating the 4th of July and will be back in your inboxes on Monday, July 8.

California lawmakers met through Wednesday night to finalize voting for November before heading off for summer recess until August 5.

They sent voters two bonds: $10 billion for climate programs (60 to 5 in the House of Representatives, 33 to 6 in the Senate) and $10 billion for building schools and community colleges (34 to 3 in the Senate, 68 to 1 in the House of Representatives).

They also passed a bill that would put bond spending on the Nov. 5 ballot by calling a special election at the same time — and that would set the order of the many proposals. The Senate voted 31-8 along party lines to approve it.

Despite interruptions and shouts from pro-Palestinian protesters in the gallery, the assembly voted 54 to 6 in favor of the ballot measure shortly after 7 p.m. In doing so, lawmakers finalized the list of 10 proposals for the November 5 vote, after a number of last-minute additions and deletions.

To learn more about the measures — and how proposals work in California and their history — read our newly updated statement.

One bill the legislators did not vote on was the Democratic version of a proposal to amend Proposition 47, which was supposed to be the first proposal on the ballot. The reason for this was that Governor Gavin Newsom withdrew it from the ballot on Tuesday evening in a political shock moment.

Republicans, who support the repeal of House Bill 47, already on the ballot, celebrated the victory and supported the bipartisan anti-shoplifting bill introduced in June (which will be considered by the House in August).

  • Chairman of the GOP in the Assembly James Gallagher of Chico, in a statement: “Together, we as legislators have crafted an anti-shoplifting package that we can be proud of. It went through a transparent process, has bipartisan support and will bring much-needed public safety reforms. These bills are 100% our work, not the governor's.”

Who is responsible: With Newsom in Washington, DC (more on that later) and Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis also out of the state for personal reasons, Senate President pro tempore Mike McGuire of Santa Rosa was next in line and took over as acting governor on Wednesday, leaving him to sign the election-related bills into law on Wednesday night.

McGuire also issued a statement reassuring Californians that state officials are “on high alert as much of the Golden State experiences record high temperatures and challenging fire conditions.” More on that below.

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Fireworks and forest fires

A fireworks stand in Vernon on July 2, 2024. Photo by Ted Soqui for CalMatters

While most Californians try to weather the heat wave (which is expected to last through next week), state authorities are warning that Independence Day fireworks could spark more wildfires, writes Jenna Peterson, policy intern at CalMatters.

At a press conference on Tuesday, state fire marshal Daniel Berlant said residents should avoid setting off fireworks near flammable objects or vegetation.

  • Berlant: “The dry grass, vegetation throughout the state, coupled with triple-digit temperatures and wind are a perfect recipe for disaster.”

Berlant has reason to be on alert: Cal Fire has reported 27 active wildfires since Wednesday evening.

One of the largest fires is the Thompson Fire in Butte County. About 1,400 firefighters were dispatched, but the fire was only 7% contained. About 28,000 area residents were ordered to evacuate, as were employees at the Hyatt Power Plant at Oroville Dam. The power plant remains offline, and the dam's main spillway has been reopened “to maintain water release and temperature control,” according to the Department of Water Resources.

On Wednesday, Governor Newsom declared a state of emergency in the county and said in a statement that authorities are “using all available resources to fight this fire.”

The National Weather Service has also issued a wildfire warning for some areas of Northern California, stretching from Shasta County down to Santa Cruz County.

Under such conditions, the risk from errant fireworks is particularly high. Although some types of fireworks are legal in many California cities, such as sparklers and noisemakers, projectiles and explosive fireworks are banned throughout the state. Many illegal fireworks in California come from Nevada, prompting the largest seller of legal fireworks to lobby California authorities to sign an agreement with Nevada.

Learn more about illegal fireworks in Jenna's story.

Also check out CalMatters' wildfire tracker for live updates on active fires, a FAQ, and other information. And learn more about wildfires in our updated explainer video.

Garvey supports Trump, Newsom supports Biden

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Steve Garvey answers questions during his election party in Palm Springs on March 5, 2024. Photo by Gregory Bull, AP Photo
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Steve Garvey answers questions during his election party in Palm Springs on March 5, 2024. Photo by Gregory Bull, AP Photo Credit: AP

In the run-up to the March primaries, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Steve Garvey repeatedly refused to say directly whether he would vote for former President Donald Trump in November.

This prompted Democratic Representative Katie Porter to make the witty remark in the first debate: “Once a Dodger, always a Dodger.”

After making it into the November ballot, the former Los Angeles Dodgers star confirmed this week that he voted for Trump in the March 5 primary and that he plans to do so again in November, after previously supporting Trump against President Joe Biden in 2016.

In addition, Garvey jumped on the bandwagon and suggested that Biden should resign after last week's disastrous debate.

  • Garveyto Fox LA's Elex Michaelson: “I don't think our eyes are deceiving us. … He's clearly at a point in his life where he needs to step down.”

Reality check: Garvey faces an uphill battle to defeat Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff in November. The latest poll shows Schiff with 62% of likely voters, to Garvey's 37%.

Where is Newsom? Governor Newsom joined other Democratic governors at the White House on Wednesday to endorse the president, Newsom's latest public show of support for Biden.

  • Newsomin a social media post after the closed-door meeting: “I heard three words from the President – he's all in. And so am I. Joe Biden has had our backs. Now it's time to have his back.”

The governor will now serve as deputy in Michigan, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire over the holiday weekend.

In other news from Newsom on Wednesday, he announced that he would launch a new podcast in which he would “talk about anything and everything” with two unexpected partners – former NFL player Marshawn Lynch and Lynch's agent Doug Hendrickson.

“Politickin'” launches on iHeart Podcasts on July 15. But will San Francisco 49ers fans tune in? Lynch, known as “Beast Mode,” played for the rival Seattle Seahawks and poked fun at some 49ers fans in Las Vegas after they lost the Super Bowl to Kansas City in February.

And finally: save water

Sprinklers water a lawn in Sacramento on June 29, 2022. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters
California has adopted mandatory water conservation rules for municipal waterworks. Photo: Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters

Other things worth your time:

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How the border between California and Mexico has changed after Biden's order to restrict asylum // Los Angeles Times

Gun rights group sued to repeal the gun tax in California // Sacramento Bee

The consequences of extreme heat rises in California // Los Angeles Times

UCSF and Bonta agree on terms allows takeover of a San Francisco hospital worth $100 million // San Francisco Chronicle

Oakland in turmoil during investigation in Mayor Sheng Thao // Los Angeles Times

Google misses climate targetpoints to the power requirements of AI // AP News

Sacramento County shuts off water supply Homeless despite heat // The Sacramento Bee

Customer accounts remain blocked after Patelco ransomware attack // The Mercury News

The proposed election proposal would almost double Number of LA County Supervisors // LAist

Cuyama Valley residents report water fight casts a shadow on the community // Los Angeles Times

Founders of tech startup Bitwise agree to plead guilty on fraud allegations // The Fresno Bee