California has more than 800 new laws on the books this year, after Governor Jerry Brown finished signing legislation this weekend. He also vetoed more than 100 measures.
State lawmakers rarely know how the governor will act on their bills until he does so.
“I was playing solitaire for a while, kept pressing refresh on my computer screen,” Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales Fletcher describes waiting for the governor to act as the hours ticked down for the governor to finish signing and vetoing measures on Sunday.
Brown has typically vetoed 10 or 15 percent of bills passed by lawmakers, including ones that received no opposition to that point.
“Sometimes you’re just like, ‘Oh, come on!’” Gonzales Fletcher says. “On somethings he’s like, ‘Well, it’s not that I disagree with this but I don’t like the way it’s worded—or, ‘This needs to be fixed.’ And you think, ‘If only someone had told me two months ago.’”
She says, overall, Brown’s actions are “balanced.” For instance, he approved a ban on employers asking job applicants their salary history, but vetoed a requirement that the state publish names of companies with large pay disparities.
Former Republican strategist Bill Whalen calls the governor a moderating force.
“He does a very good job of molding the legislative process into his image, and his image is a little more centrist than that of the Legislature,” Whalen says.
This year, the governor vetoed 12 percent of the measures that reached his desk. The Legislature could override any of those with a two-thirds vote, but they haven’t taken that step since 1979, back in Brown’s first stint in office.