Selection of article published on September 20, 2023 in the Sacramento Bee:

Gov Gavin Newsom

Gov. Gavin Newsom has before him about a thousand bills approved by the California Legislature that now await his fate but some are far more explosive and politically consequential than others. These bills in Newsom’s pile could reveal how the governor is evolving as a leader, and now he has less than a month to review them.

If recent history is any judge, there may be a bill that will catch public attention and push the governor where he doesn’t want to go, as we saw last fall when marches and protests in support of the United Farm Workers Union pressured Newsom into signing a bill that made it easier for farm workers to unionize.

Here are five bills that test Newsom on the issues and with his alliances and his own personal political considerations. Some could raise questions about whether Newsom is putting his own unspecified national political ambitions above public interests depending on how he wields his pen.


California is only one of 18 states that does not require insurance companies to cover hearing aids of children whose need is diagnosed soon after birth. Newsom made it clear in 2020 that he would veto a bill passed unanimously by the Legislature and preferred a government-run program over an insurance mandate. Advocates are back with the same legislation in Senate Bill 635 by Caroline Menjivar, D-Van Nuys and Portantino.

There is strong evidence that a well-intentioned state-run program advanced by Newsom is not reaching the young children who need these devices. With approximately 1,000 newborns diagnosed in the state every year with a congenital hearing problem, this is not a huge pocketbook issue. But it is a life-changing matter for these children as to whether they get these hearing aids so that they fully develop speech skills or are hobbled for the rest of their lives.

Newsom should sign SB 635 even if it is a bit of an admission that he got this issue wrong four years ago. It’s the right thing to do, and it is just that simple.

Jake Janes

Jake Janes, 6, who has been living with impaired hearing since birth, hugs his younger brother Luke, 2, at home in Rocklin in July. His parents Nick and Christina Janes have been lobbying for Senate Bill 635, which would require insurance companies to cover hearing aids for children like Jake. Hector Amezcua