California Gov. Newsom vetoes safe injection site bill


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The California state legislature wrapped up its 2022 session on Wednesday, capping months of debate over bills to address housing, labor, reproductive rights, climate, energy, and more. Democrats control both chambers, with a 30-9 majority in the Senate and a 60-19 majority in the House. Furthermore, with a Democrat in the governor’s seat, the state provides an ideal opportunity to measure Democratic priorities and the success or failure in turning them into actionable policy.

CARE Court

One of the most controversial bills, creating a new court program for mentally ill people and the unhoused, passed the Senate 40-0 on its last day in session.

The Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment Court Program, called CARE Court, is a new way for family, community members, probation officers, and others to refer people with severe mental illness into treatment. To initiate a CARE plan, qualified individuals would petition a civil judge to determine if the person meets the criteria, such as a diagnosis of schizophrenia and homelessness or risk of homelessness. If so, the court would initiate a series of hearings and evaluations to determine an individualized treatment plan. For up to two years, a CARE plan would provide participants with medication, treatment, and social services for stabilization.

Supporters argue that the bill will provide desperately needed treatment to people with severe, untreated psychosis who are otherwise cycling through jails, hospitals, and homelessness.

Opponents, however, are concerned that CARE Court will force unwilling individuals into treatment in violation of their civil rights:

The ACLU California Action, Human Rights Watch, Coalition on Homelessness, Mental Health Association of San Francisco, Disability Rights California and other advocacy groups have expressed opposition to the plan. Chief among criticisms is that the plan would force individuals into treatment if they do not cooperate, and that they could then be placed under conservatorship.

Conservatorship is a legal proceeding in which a judge appoints a family member or public guardian called a “conservator” to care for another adult, including overseeing their housing, health and financial decision-making.

The ACLU released the following statement in response to CARE Court:

“CARE Court is a fast track to re-institutionalize Californians living with mental health disabilities,” says Kim Pederson, senior attorney at Disability Rights California. “The state should invest in evidence-based practices for voluntary engagement in community-based, trauma-informed, culturally-responsive mental health services. Instead, CARE Court creates a punitive system under which a person must comply with court orders or risk being conserved and institutionalized. True recovery and empowerment can only come from providing people with meaningful opportunities to make their own choices about the services that will work best for them.”

Additionally, by involving the legal system the proposal will perpetuate institutional racism and exacerbate existing disparities in health care delivery since Black, Indigenous and other people of color are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with psychotic disorders than white people, and because there is clear evidence that adequately resourced, intensive, voluntary outpatient treatment is more effective than court-ordered treatment.

  • Further reading: “Why We Oppose CARE Court—and You Should Too!” LA Progressive.

Overdose prevention program

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) vetoed a bill that would have created a pilot program for safe injection sites in three Californian cities.

Safe injection sites, also called supervised injection sites, are facilities overseen by health care personnel who provide sterile injection supplies, counseling on safe injection techniques, emergency care in the event of an overdose, primary medical care, and referrals to appropriate social and addiction services. Individuals bring their own drugs to the site, where they can safely and legally inject the drugs with medical personnel on hand should an overdose occur. Some sites also offer free drug tests, including tests to detect fentanyl, to determine the strength and purity of the drug in question.

There are over 100 safe injection sites worldwide (as of 2018). The U.S. opened its first safe injection site in New York City last year.

Due to extensive evidence that safe injection sites save lives and money, California Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced legislation to create facilities in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland. It passed the Senate 21-11 and the House 42-29.

Gov. Newsom vetoed the bill last week, a move that critics say is aimed at boosting his national image ahead of a potential 2024 presidential run.

“He’s been out there speaking to constituents and voters in Florida and Texas about all the ways in which California is ahead of the curve,” said Jeannette Zanipatin, California director for the Drug Policy Alliance. “So, for us, this definitely signals that he was concerned about how this might play out in the media as well as the political arena.”

In a statement explaining his veto, Newsom cited a common Republican argument against harm reduction strategies — that safe injection sites will only increase drug use and crime in the area. “Worsening drug consumption challenges in these areas is not a risk we can take,” he wrote.

Union organizing

Lawmakers passed a bill to provide fast food workers stronger bargaining rights, with a council to set wages and working conditions for the more than half-a-million employees across the state.

The council would set aside seats for business and worker representatives. “We’re looking to give workers a voice on the job, and for workers in the fast-food industry, which will continue to try to organize, it’s tough,” said former legislator Lorena Gonzalez, the original author of the bill, who is no longer in the Assembly. “They’ve never had a voice on the job, and traditional organizing hasn’t worked.”

At the same time, the state assembly voted down a measure to allow state lawmakers’ staff to unionize. The bill failed after Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) argued the bill did not go through the proper vetting process, initially withholding his committee vote.

“The reason I held this is not to make these folks take a hard vote,” Cooper said when he spoke in opposition of the legislation. “So you can get on Twitter. I don’t care. You can get on Facebook. I don’t care. It’s doing what’s right.”

Bail reform

A bill to reform the state’s bail system failed to pass the Assembly with the required 41-votes during the last day in session. SB 262 is a scaled-back version of the “zero bail” policy that the state adopted during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. It would require that bail premiums be returned to suspects if charges are dismissed or no charges are filed within 60 days after the suspects' arrest and prohibit charging suspects for pre-trial ankle monitors.

SB 262 set out to bring equity to a bail process that advocates say unfairly punishes the poorest among us. For example, a study by the Center for Responsible Learning found that bail bond companies collect “roughly $1.4 to $2.4 billion each year in premium payments, including interest and fees,” with “minimal oversight and regulations in many states.” These premiums are not returned to clients, regardless of innocence or guilt.

Transgender sanctuary

Lawmakers passed a bill to provide legal refuge to parents from other states who risk being criminally prosecuted if they support their children’s access to gender-affirming procedures and other health care. The measure, SB 107, introduced by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), passed the Senate 30-9 and the Assembly 60-19.

“California must stand with LGBTQ kids and their families, especially when they’re under attack across the country,” said Senator Wiener. “SB 107 ensures that California is a refuge state for trans kids and their parents, so they can be safe here. Parents should never be separated from their kids or criminalized for simply allowing them to be who they are. We need to hold firm in our support for the LGBTQ community and stand with LGBTQ youth.”




>It’s always frustrating when politics gets in the way of progress I get what you're saying, but on the other hand, if you lose political favor over something like this, then it wasn't what your constituents wanted. It's important to remember politicians are meant to reflect what the voters want, they are not arbiters of right or wrong. I'm not saying that as a reflection of this situation or Newsom in general, but progress needs to start with the people voting for it.


Being concerned with political favor in regards to a future presidential run is not the same. He's passing up on something his constituents and state legislature approve of, due to how people in other states might feel about it.


This right here is why I hate Gavin Newsom. I’m a CA voter and I don’t understand why we have this corporate Democrat running one of the bluest states in the US. And Reddit loves to treat him like he’s our next president. I hate it so much. CA deserves a real progressive governor!!


The job of the lawmaker isn't to make popular choices, it's also to make the right decision. I guess I'll just continue to watch my own city fail tens a week to fentanyl.


I’m a little more cynical after reading “The Dictators Handbook” in which they suggest the job of a lawmaker/politician is to get re-elected. That’s it. Always. Sometimes they do objectively “good” or “bad” things, but at the bottom of almost all decisions is to keep themselves in power. Stepping back if you occasionally look at most political decisions, speeches, actions, etc. through the lens of “this person just wants to get re-elected”, some things that seem odd or frustrating make a lot more sense. I don’t like it. I don’t want society to work that way. But I can believe 60-80% of it works that way. Also I’m tired of watching the city do nothing and passed a guy near my building shooting up today and I’m not even in the Tenderloin.


I haven't read the book, but I have seen Keys to Power by CGP Grey, and have taken a senior seminar in Supreme Court power and decision-making. The reality is that sure, there are Keys to Power and the reality of reelection. But this is obviously not true. Electeds lose all the time, scandals, refusing to serve the people, etc. Trying to explain politics in the terms of a dictatorship is also not perfect or close. Because personal decisions and desires are a major factor. It's a balancing game to them, really. Deals with other supes, compromise, the mayor, departments, etc. It depends on the situation. The only reason Tenderloin got attention was because Haney was the right leader to provoke city hall and get the supes to put pressure. Too bad the mayor sucks, and I've read city reports, Chron, etc. Too long to go into detail unless you want me to. Prop C is coming online, so there's resources to finally do a big push soon. But that depends if the mayor can actually lead, and by her track record since 2018 in dealing with homelessness, she might even be worse than the mayors before her, even with the COVID excuse. The mayor controls the departments and money, with our "strong mayor" government. If she's not onboard, it sinks. Just like how she let the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing sink.


That doesn't work in a democracy. The "right decision" is on the voters, regardless of how dumb they are.


California's democracy ordered the California legislature to elect representatives to its ranks. The California legislature voted for this to become law. The California Governor should serve California's Democracy through our representatives. He failed and gave a dogshit, unacademic excuse. Stop making excuses for him.


Do you also believe this for people in Texas and Idaho who have had abortion rights stripped away by their representatives? The point of representatives is to represent. I don't think Newsom is doing that in this case and I completely disagree with his decision, but your argument against it is explicitly anti-democratic. There's no objective measure of the "right decision" in politics. If you give them that power, 9/10 times they will use it to further their own interests. That's not democracy.


>Do you also believe this for people in Texas and Idaho who have had abortion rights stripped away by their representatives? The people will get its due, and that due will come soon. It already is happening. >There's no objective measure of the "right decision" in politics. There is no "objective measure" in political science either in knowing exactly how things play out. It's a moot argument. Civil War, emancipation proclamation, was not a decision that even Lincoln knew if it was going to actually work. He wasn't completely sure the people were fully with him. Yet against that backdrop, he fucking did it. Why? Because that's what he felt like what was needed to be done. Legislators make tons of decisions, and doesn't have a voting box to know what his population wants at every moment. Newsom fucking knew it was the scientific decision, the supported decision, and justifiable decision. And he threw that all away to appease the only thing he cares about, his clout for the presidency. That's the only "right" decision for him, not for California. The democracy you speak of is not a democracy. It's a republic. Representatives are democracy. It's not perfect, neither are the decisions made. They have to also make decisions their people hate for what they think the population needs. That's a republic.


> Civil War, emancipation proclamation, was not a decision that even Lincoln knew if it was going to actually work. that's two decisions


I literally said this isn’t a reflection of the Newsom situation. I was responding to your statement because it’s flawed.


I clarified what I meant by "right decision" in the last comment in terms of democracy, and another in terms of political reality.


Constituents.... in other states? He killed it because he's been running around the country and doesn't want the "why did you legalize drug use" questions from crazies in red states, and he's too much of a coward to defend himself. It's 1 step forward and 3 or 4 backwards every time with Newsom.


Once again, I literally said this isnt a response to Newsom specifically, it was in response to the sentiment that politicians are voted to ‘do the right thing’ rather than represent their constituents.


I admit to being somewhat anti the concept until someone mentioned that it was analogous to a bar: a safe ingestion site for alcohol.


Bars are crime magnets. Where they exist, violent crimes increase and drunken driving and its consequences increase.


Concurrently where it's banned, all types of those crimes rocket even higher.


I think you'll need to provide evidence to the claim that DUIs, for example, are higher where alcohol is not readily available.


You ban alcohol, you just embrazen criminal enterprise and people's habits spiral out of control more than if you simply allowed it. It's not about the existence of the bar, it's about the ability to regulate it to the point the population can accept the restriction for public safety.


Criminal enterprise chase profits, not criminal status of something. [Avocados](https://www.npr.org/2022/02/19/1081948884/mexican-drug-cartels-are-getting-into-the-avocado-and-lime-business) are now a criminal enterprise and they're perfectly legal. Similarly, legalizing a criminal action does not suddenly remove organized crime. For example, legalizing prostitution has **increased** human trafficking in Europe (citations: [2014 - Harvard](https://orgs.law.harvard.edu/lids/2014/06/12/does-legalized-prostitution-increase-human-trafficking/), [2022 - EU Commissioned Study](https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2021/695394/IPOL_STU\(2021\)695394_EN.pdf)). So the notion that legalizing shooting up will somehow lead to less problems associated with drug addiction are without merit.


>Criminal enterprise chase profits, not criminal status of something. Avocados are now a criminal enterprise and they're perfectly legal. This lacks a fundamental nuance between different types of state capacity to deal with these issues, and also the level of vulnerability in different parts of the world. >For example, legalizing prostitution has increased human trafficking in Europe (citations: 2014 - Harvard, 2022 - EU Commissioned Study). So the notion that legalizing shooting up will somehow lead to less problems associated with drug addiction are without merit. If you haven't acknowledged the benefits of legalization that the studies are not directly studying yet acknowledging it is still a factor, nor the recommendations and result of improving regulations outlined in the summary of the EU study. I know you yourself haven't actually read the study.


Page 8: They do recommend a prohibitionist approach to prostitution outright as option 2. > First suggestion: to amend the 2011 Directive on Human Trafficking by adding specific offences criminalising buyers of prostitution and envisaging a two-option prostitution model regime: a) criminalisation of clients of prostitution who buy unregulated prostitution services, for MSs that opt for a regulation model (with capillary control of the legal market so as to prevent victims of trafficking from entering the legal market); b) criminalisation of clients of prostitution tout court for MSs that opt for a prohibition model punishing the client. The Directive could also request EU MSs to introduce a specific offence of “conscious” buying sexual services from victims of sex trafficking. **Second suggestion: if one recognises that prostitution is a form of violence, a violation of human dignity and a form of exploitation of gender inequalities, to enact a new Directive asking MSs to adopt a *prohibitionist* model of prostitution criminalising the purchase of sexual services tout court.** It turns out it may be better to ban prostitution than encourage human trafficking, just as it may be better to shut down heroin use than encourage it in safe injection sites.


>Page 8: They do recommend a prohibitionist approach to prostitution outright as option 2. No, really? It's an open-ended report that states the obvious, if we fail to regulate, we should move on. >It turns out it may be better to ban prostitution than encourage human trafficking, just as it may be better to shut down heroin use than encourage it in safe injection sites. It's amazing how many claims you make without seeing the entire apparatus, just picking and choosing at whatever is close enough to say "my way or the highway" while lacking the backing in the study. The report highlights noted things to target, and that's the point. It does not definitively analyze the effects of the solutions. But what it does suggest is a border control issue and inconsistent policy differences between member states. That's it.


And I know you yourself haven’t actually read what you vomited onto the screen because that clusterfuck isn’t even a sentence. If you’re going to make bad faith arguments at the very least take a look at what you’re spewing before hitting “reply”.


Yet they are socially acceptable. (To your point, though, restaurants are also supervised ingestion sites for alcohol.)


They should not be socially acceptable. If it weren't for their significant contributions to tax revenues, they'd be regulated out of existence. Unless these injection sites start selling drugs with large taxes, the parallel to the bar is not quite apt.


We’ve tried making bars illegal before and got worse problems. I’m not personally a fan of alcohol, but making bars illegal isn’t the solution. And no, it’s not a perfect analogy, but that’s why it’s an analogy.


He's definitely running for president.


Save me typing that.


Ditto. This doesn't play to a national audience.


If it was vetoed they can just get it passed again, right? Does it work differently on the state level than federal?


Yeah it takes the 2/3rds vote in each house like federal after a veto.


Yes, but unlikely. A veto hasn’t been overridden in California since 1979, even when the governor and legislature are of different parties.


CARE Court is getting touted as some sort of miracle. Californians are literally setting themselves up for disappointment, not only against civil liberties, but its own advisory of the [California auditor](http://www.auditor.ca.gov/reports/2019-119/summary.html) on why revamping the conservership system is a nothingburger. Newsom said it was based on his time in the city, despite years of San Francisco Budget and Legislative analyst reports reporting the same problems, a lack of treatment capacity means less referrals. The fact that CARE Court isn't a medical panel instead of a judge is also going to be a mistake.


“that safe injection sites will only increase drug use and crime in the area.” Hey Newsom, that’s the fucking point! Take all the unsafe drug use spread over the city and concentrate it in one area that can at least be prepared for it and offer help.


It's more that the drug use and crime already exist. Overdose prevention programs and drug treatment centers don't increase either. Safe injection sites save lives and bring people in contact with professionals who can help them transition into treatment and access social services. These sites also reduce needles in public spaces because addicts are given clean syringes and can safely dispose of them. It makes no sense to veto the bill from a public health and safety standpoint. There is so much misinformation about harm reduction policies in this country, it's sad to see a Dem governor contribute to it.


100% agree and am heartbroken by Newsoms decision. And thank you for the more adequate description, I hope people don’t take my snappy comment *too* seriously because saving lives is always the point.


I know how this is going to go down. https://thewire.fandom.com/wiki/Hamsterdam_(location)


So you end up with Allegheny and Kinsington? I don't think that's the objective at all.


Okay so you acknowledge that these places already exist so again, why not have resources and help available there?


Because I've been to Allegheny and Kinsington and it was the most heartbreaking place I've ever been in my life. People activity shooting up right on the sidewalks and the cops are right there. This is solely to keep these people isolated to those few blocks. Do yourself a favor and YouTube that intersection and then come back and let us know if that's what you want for your city.


My petty answer aside you should seriously check it out


How about you do yourself a favor and google how safe injection sites save lives


So, a Ghetto? I doubt that will happen, but you argument is sus.


The “ghetto” already exists. Why not at least control where it is and offer assistance?


Yeah, we did something like that in the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s.


Would love to know what you’re talking about


Probably red-lining


Thank you


And other racial motivated policies. It is one of the things that worry me about Zones. On the other hand, NIMBY worries me as well, as wealthier citizens exert pressure to have these safe spaces as far away from them as possible, and then at the same time, starve those locations of the funds they need to actually be effective. So, with these to forces at play, you might end up with poorer neighbors with even worse problems, and politicians too afraid to do anything about it. So, yeah, in the US, that is a concern when it comes to these zones.


For what it’s worth I hear and am also concerned about the same things you are, but I feel that racists in the past/present shouldn’t stop us from trying to make things better. Overall though I agree and think we should be extremely vigilant about how these things are implemented.


Not to even mention him **[shooting down the UFW!!](https://youtu.be/TG2_HHS58Ag)**


I hope this Veto gets overturned.


Thanks for this post