Tomorrow is the last day for Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign or veto the roughly 900 bills that the State Legislature sent him before its session ended last month. He’s already torn through hundreds of measures this week, and as of Thursday evening, about 100 were still awaiting his decision.
Newsom approved dozens of bills aimed at making housing more affordable in California, including one that would limit renters’ security deposits to no more than one month’s rent. Under the old rules, established in 1977, landlords in the state could insist on as much as three months’ rent as a deposit.
The governor also signed several measures that, in classic California fashion, will be first-in-the-nation programs or efforts. One law makes California the first state to ban the citation of “excited delirium” as a cause of death; prominent medical associations say the term refers to a dubious concept rooted in racism that is often used to justify the deaths of people in police custody.
He approved a law creating the country’s “Ebony Alert” system, a special notification system intended specifically to help find missing Black children and women. Advocates say such cases often do not receive the same attention and police resources as those of missing white people.
And he signed a law banning more than two dozen potentially toxic ingredients from cosmetics and other personal care products sold in California. The ingredients, including some that are believed to increase the risk of cancer and birth defects, are already banned in the European Union, but not anywhere else in the United States.
The bills that the governor has tried to draw the most attention to are a suite of measures he signed that are meant to transform California’s mental health system, including a bill that will make it easier to force people with mental health and addiction issues into treatment.
On Thursday, he gave his signature to two laws intended to tackle the state’s homelessness and mental health crises. One will put a proposition on the March 2024 primary election ballot that would finance housing for homeless people with mental illness. The other reallocates a large share of the state’s mental health budget toward housing for people with serious mental illnesses, substance-use disorders or both.
At a news conference in Los Angeles on Thursday, Newsom said the efforts were part of a “recognition that in this nation, we screwed up” by deinstitutionalizing mental patients without creating an adequate alternative.
“Today marks a powerful and important milestone,” he said, standing at a lectern with a sign that said “Treatment, Not Tents.” “If I’m not coming off as proud, I’m not doing my job.”
Where we’re traveling
Today’s tip comes from Luke Schock, who recommends the Imperial Sand Dunes in Imperial County:
“The Imperial San Dunes were the filming location for the sand scenes in ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Jumanji.’ It is a mecca for off-road enthusiasts from all over the southwest, with more than 100,000 visitors on a given weekend. It’s a wild place that looks like the Sahara. I’ve ridden motorcycles, done sand sledding and sand skiing and multiple types of off-road vehicles, all of which are available to rent. There are drag races and all types of activities going on there.”
Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.
Today we’re asking about love: not whom you love, but what you love about your corner of California.
Email us a love letter to your California city, neighborhood or region — or to the Golden State as a whole — and we may share it in an upcoming newsletter. You can reach the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.
And before you go, some good news
Bridgette Donald-Blue, a math teacher at Coliseum Street Elementary in South Los Angeles, brought her educational expertise to a different kind of classroom last week: the set of the long-running game show “Wheel of Fortune.”
Donald-Blue, who was named one of California’s 2023 teachers of the year by the state’s Department of Education, traded multiplication tables for wordplay, stepping in for the longtime co-host Vanna White during last week’s “Teachers’ Week,” which honored educators and their work.
White missed the episodes’ tapings this summer while out sick with Covid — one of only a few absences in her 41 years on the game show — but her leave gave Donald-Blue, an educator with three decades of experience and a wiz at the puzzle board, a chance to shine.
“I was tremendously excited,” Donald-Blue told KABC-TV. “It was a great opportunity to champion the cause of education, the work that teachers do every day.”
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back on Monday. Enjoy your weekend. — Soumya
P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword.
Maia Coleman and Briana Scalia contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.