Yesterday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra joined twenty other state Attorneys General in signing a letter demanding that the U.S. Department of Justice, led by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, “end its new ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy which separates children from their parents.”

This action comes short of Attorney General Becerra’s more common course of action, which has been to sue the Trump administration over policies that California does not agree with. Under Attorney General Becerra, California has initiated or joined a lawsuit against the Trump administration nearly three dozen times, according to CALmatters. Seven of those lawsuits relate to immigration policy.

A facility called Casa San Diego, operated by Southwest Key Programs, in El Cajon, California houses children who were separated from their parents at the border. The San Diego Union Tribune reports that, “According to staff there, about 10 percent of the children held in Casa San Diego were separated from their parents at the border.”

So it is a little surprising that Becerra has only signed on to a strongly worded letter rather than sue, especially given the reporting by Ginger Johnson with ProPublica and by Franco Ordoñez and Anita Kumar with McClatchy. ProPublica has some of the first audio to come out of a government facility in Texas housing children who were separated from their parents at the border. McClatchy reported that “the Trump administration has likely lost track of nearly 6,000 unaccompanied migrant children.”

It is possible that a lawsuit to change the policy won’t be necessary, per this tweet from Politico’s Christopher Cadelago.

Legislation would certainly be helpful on this front, especially given that what is in Trump’s executive order is yet to be seen. Dara Lind with Vox points out that “There is no law that requires immigrant families to be separated.” Vicki Gonzalez with KCRA reports that Congress is working to reach a solution this week. One bill addressing the issue is Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D – California) Keep Families Together Act currently has the support of 49 U.S. Senators, including Feinstein’s fellow California Senator, Kamala Harris.




It’s been three months since U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions came to Sacramento to announce his lawsuit against the State of California challenging various provisions of the new sanctuary state law.  I posted about my initial evaluation of the claims when Sessions announced the lawsuit.  Tomorrow is a big hearing in federal district court, so it’s time to check in again.

What’s been going on during the last three months?  Lots of papers have been filed.  California tried to move the case to San Francisco, but the judge said no so it will remain in Sacramento.  The United States and California have filed papers, and lots of groups and individuals have filed their own amicus curae briefs supporting one or the other side.

What’s going on to tomorrow?  Judge Mendez will hear oral argument on two motions.  The U.S. seeks a court order to block California’s sanctuary state laws and California is asking the judge to dismiss all of the United States’ claims.  The motions are flip sides of each other, each taking extreme positions about how good their claims are.  The U.S. argues that its claims are so good that the judge should grant a court order (preliminary injunction) before trial happens.  California argues that the claims are so weak that the judge should dismiss them all without having a trial at all.

California has a tough row to hoe on the motion to dismiss.  It has to prove that no set of facts could allow the U.S. to state claims.  It’s unlikely that Judge Mendez will dismiss any of the claims at this early stage.

So, the focus tomorrow will be on the U.S. motion for a preliminary injunction.  Unlike a trial, where the party just has to win, the U.S. has to show more to convince a judge to act early, and enter an order against the other side, before the judge has been able to hear all the arguments and see the evidence that would be presented at a trial.

Judge Mendez will come into the hearing very prepared.  He will have looked carefully at all the writings, researched the arguments, and will likely have pin-pointed questions to flesh out particular parts of the claims.  He likely knows how he is inclined to rule on each claim.   What?  Isn’t that pre-judging the case?  Yes, but that’s ok.  In fact, it is responsible judging.

This is not like a trial, where the jury is supposed to keep an open mind before it hears the evidence.  There may be some testimony tomorrow, and the judge should keep an open mind on that.  But most of tomorrow’s claims depend upon reading U.S. law and California law and deciding how they inter-relate.  These are complex legal questions and it is entirely appropriate that the judge would study them, think hard about them, and form initial opinions before oral argument.

The lawyers will be very prepared as well.  They wrote the pleadings and, during the last week, have undoubtedly been doing “moot court” preparations where they argue and take questions, trying to anticipate what the other side and the judge will say.

What is the standard of proof?

The U.S. needs to show (1) that it is likely to win at trial; (2) that it will suffer extraordinary harm if it must wait until trial for a court order; (3) that it will suffer more harm than California if it must wait until trial; and (4) that the public interest is on its side.

Both the U.S. and California have strong claims that they will suffer “irreparable” harm that cannot be repaired later if the court rules against them.  So, the focus of the case will be on whether the U.S. can meet its burden of showing a “likelihood of success” at trial on its claims.

What are the claims?

The basis for all three of the U.S. claims is that the California sanctuary state provisions violate the Supremacy Clause of Article VI of the Constitution.  The U.S. also claims that each provision violates what is called “inter-governmental immunities.”  This is a more difficult claim for the U.S., and so I’ll focus on the Supremacy Clause (preemption) claims as they relate to each California law.

The Supremacy Clause says that when state law conflicts with valid federal law, the federal law prevails.  No one disputes that this part of the Constitution exists, or what it says.  So what’s the big question with all three claims?  Is there a conflict or is this just another of many situations where the two different governments may regulate the same activities, but for different reasons?

California’s “Immigrant Worker Protection Act” (IWPA).  This law prohibits private employers from voluntarily complying with federal immigration enforcement requests for information. This means that the federal agents need to get a court order to obtain the information.  There is nothing explicit in the federal law that says California cannot do this. So, the question is whether the state law “frustrates the purpose” or “stands as an obstacle to enforcement” of federal law.  Maybe … or even, quite likely it does.  California has very good reasons for its law, but that is not the right question when the federal government claims preemption.  The focus is on what the federal government validly wants to achieve and whether the state law makes it systematically more difficult no matter the state’s strong interests.  Private California employers are citizens of the state and of the United States.  Expect to see the U.S. make the point that it should be able to seek voluntary compliance from its citizens on the same terms as the state, and the state effort to shift that balance unconstitutionally obstructs its lawful exercise of its powers.

California Assembly Bill (AB) 103.  This law allows California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to inspect immigration detention facilities to make sure they are being operated lawfully.  California has the power to do this and has a strong interest in making sure confinement conditions and other aspects of detention meet state and federal standards.  The U.S. claim that California is targeting it specifically is not particularly strong.  California can reasonably claim that its interest is in immigration facilities and what occurs in them, which pose particular issues that make them different from other types of facilities, and so it is targeting the type of facility not the federal government that operates them.  California does not obstruct federal law enforcement if it only imposes reasonable ministerial requirements that are similar to what it imposes on other entities that rent and operate other types of facilities.  It is not clear from the papers how the inspections work in practice.  Expect to see questions that go to the burden of the inspections on immigration enforcement officials, and that compare these burdens with inspection burdens imposed on other types of facilities.

California Senate Bill (SB) 54.  This law limits state and local law enforcements’ abilities to give certain types of information about current and former state prisoners to immigration enforcement officials.  The U.S. preemption claim is the weakest here, because, unlike with private employers, California has the superior power to direct the activities of state and local law enforcement.  The U.S. cannot constitutionally require state and local officials to assist with its immigration enforcement efforts.  Expect questions to the U.S. about what valid law entitles it to the information it seeks.  If the judge were to dismiss a claim tomorrow (which, as I said is unlikely), this would be it.

What happens after the hearing?

The judge can grant an order stopping enforcement of all, or single parts of the sanctuary law.  That is, the judge can accept all, some, or none of the U.S.’s claims.  Also, the judge can rule from the bench, meaning a court order goes into effect right away.  Or, more likely, the judge can take the claims “under submission,” and issue a ruling, along with a written opinion explaining his reasoning, later, in a few days or weeks.

After a ruling, we can expect the losing side to file an appeal.  The losing side will likely seek another court order, this time from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, either granting an order stopping the California laws or stopping an order by the judge stopping California laws, whichever way the ruling goes.  A three-judge panel of the court of appeals will schedule argument.  We have already waited three months for this oral argument, so it is unlikely that the court of appeals would hear the appeal as an emergency.  More likely, argument would be within a few months.  After that, the losing party will likely try to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to accept the case and issue a ruling.  If the Court agrees, that ruling would likely not be issued until June 2019, at the earliest.

For more details, see Dean Vik Amar’s analysis in Verdict.




What Makes California lawmaking difficult (transcript)

Today’s podcast is on what makes lawmaking in California difficult. There are a number of factors that influence the lawmaking process generally and make it particularly an arduous process in the state of California.

I think that the difficulty in the lawmaking process in California starts with the bicameral legislature. That is, we have two houses of the legislature, as well as separate branches of government, each of which play a critical role in California’s lawmaking process. There’s naturally going to be tension in the lawmaking process as these three branches of government and two houses of the Legislature have an equal say in adopting legislation.

There are also a number of institutional issues that can affect and cause gridlock and other difficulties in the lawmaking process such as term limits and the lack of bipartisan cooperation. Those are often the two most cited examples.

For term limits, there are newly‑elected officials versus those who are in their final terms of office. Undoubtedly, these individuals have a different role and a different view that they bring. Do they view themselves as equals? Is there a difference between a freshman legislator and one that’s on his or her way out?

Sometimes legislators, in the early stages of their career, are on a steep learning curve, not just about the issues, but also about the institutions and the legislative process itself.

There are times where political extremes from both sides of the political aisle impact the legislative process. Is there a lack of bipartisan cooperation? What about between the two houses and the legislators themselves?

Without collegial working relationships, coming to consensus is harder in the legislative process, and laws enacted along party lines are less stable. If everyone does not agree to what is the best answer to addressing a public policy issue, then that often causes concern.

In addition to some of these institutional factors, there are also a number of political reasons that make the legislative process in the state of California difficult. Constituents, the public generally, and the media expect quick action by the Legislature on public policy issues facing the state of California.

One is the electoral process. Assembly members have to run for office every two years while Senators run for office every four years. Some of these legislators, particularly those in the state Assembly, have to continually be in campaign mode and raise funds throughout the legislative process.

This means soliciting interest groups for campaign contributions, including those who regularly appear before them in the California State Legislature. Some legislators find it difficult to vote against their friends, especially those who are helpful in their re‑election campaign efforts.

Also the initiative process and a number of voter‑approved ballot measures that constrain state spending, limiting the ability of legislators to address public policy issues. Moreover, competing funding priorities that have been set forth by the electorate create difficulties for lawmakers as well as hurdles to enact budget priorities.

In the end, there isn’t a single factor that makes lawmaking in California difficult. Instead, it’s a combination of political and institutional factors that impact resolution of public policy issues facing the legislature. These often result in gridlock and a lack of success, or on occasion, one‑sided results that leave others with the process unhappy.

On today’s episode of The CAP⋅impact Podcast we are diving in to California’s primary election. If you listen to news and politics podcasts, it’s very likely that you’ve already heard about California’s Top Two primary system – likely within the context of how the system could have led to Democratic candidates being  shut out of congressional races across southern California and California’s Central Valley or how it could shut out Republicans from the race for Governor.

Ultimately, neither of those scenarios came to fruition. Democrats got their candidates through in the Congressional contests and Republican businessman John Cox advanced to the general election to face off against Democrat and Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom.

That’s enough horse race coverage for this post. If you want a recap of the primary, you can check out last week’s post from Jon Wainwright on the implications of the primary results.

This week’s podcast focuses more on the Top Two primary itself – the structure of it and how it came to be in California – and how the Top Two Primary affects how campaigns talk to voters. For the explainer on Top Two primary, we’re talking with McGeorge professor and elections expert Mary-Beth Moylan, and to discuss how the Top Two primary has changed campaigns, we brought in Democratic consultant Brian Brokaw – no relation to Tom Brokaw.

We hope you enjoy today’s episode. As always, we would greatly appreciate it if you can leave us a five star rating on iTunes or Apple Podcasts. Another great way to help us to subscribe to the show wherever you listen to podcasts.

And lastly, you can always let us know what you think about today’s episode in the comments, or on Facebook and Twitter.

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper’s initiative to split California into three states, being marketed as Cal 3, qualified for this year’s November ballot. The idea is problematic.

What the three proposed California’s would look like. Credit: Los Angeles Times graphics

But before we dive in to the what if’s of what happens after it passes, or the big if that is if it passes, it needs noting that there is a strong chance that this could not be on November’s General Election ballot even though it received the number of signatures necessary to qualify.

That’s because this initiative is ripe for pre-election review by the California courts, according to McGeorge professor and elections expert Mary-Beth Moylan. And not only is it ripe for review by the courts, but she thinks the likelihood of the courts throwing the initiative out – that is, removing from the ballot – is very high. Here’s her reasoning for that, from an interview that she gave to KCRA 3 News in Sacramento:

The California Constitution gives people the initiative power to make laws. This isn’t really enacting a law. This is attempting to alter the boundary lines of the State of California and to create essentially two new states … The California Constitution itself says that the boundary lines for California are those that were set at the time of the 1849 (state) constitution. Any attempt to change that provision, I think, would amount to a revision, which people don’t have power to make revisions. The only way the constitution of California can be revised is if the Legislature sets a constitutional convention or proposes revisions to the people.”

The first question that comes to mind is, if this initiative passes, could California actually split into three states? The short answer is yes, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that there is a very wide gulf between could happen and would happen.

Article IV, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution reads: “no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State … without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.” So, the constitutional ability to split California exists. There is even precedent for a state to be created by splitting off from another state.

In 1863, West Virginia became a union state after delegates from Union-supporting counties in the northwestern part of the wanted to break off from the Confederate state of Virginia. Should all the necessary hurdles be cleared, splitting California “would be the first division of an existing U.S. state since the creation of West Virginia” according to John Myers at the Los Angeles Times. But the circumstances are worth emphasizing here. The creation of West Virginia happened during the Civil War when a portion of a Confederate state decided to leave and join the Union. These circumstances are not at play today.

That leads to the Congressional hurdle, which appears to be insurmountable given the current Congress, assuming the initiative passes in November. The three proposed states are divided up along existing county lines. When you look at which counties are in each proposed state, it looks like the U.S. Senate would easily add three more Democratic Senators (in addition to current Senators Feinstein and Harris), a proposition that would not go over with Republicans.

But, for the sake of argument, say the initiative passes, Congress approves, it clears every legal hurdle it faces, and California indeed splits into three states. Can Cal 3 deliver on the benefits it says passing the initiative will reap? Let’s take a look at a couple:

  • Lower taxes – The promise is that “Cal 3 would encourage each state set lower tax rates.” For one, taxes are not mentioned at all in the proposed initiative that was submitted. So to claim that the initiative encourages the new states to lower taxes is dubious. Further, there’s no guarantee that elected officials in Northern California (likely to be predominantly from the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento) or in California (predominantly from Los Angeles) would set tax rates lower than they are currently.
  • Local Identity, Autonomy, & Diversity – The promise is “Rather than being managed remotely – and ineffectively – from Sacramento, each state will have the autonomy to make choices based on the most pressing needs and opportunities closest to home.” Considering that 56 of the Legislature’s 120 members come from either Los Angeles County or the Bay Area (19 members of the Senate and 37 members of the Assembly) it’s fair to be concerned that other parts of the state aren’t having their voices heard when weighed against the clout of these two dominant urban population centers. But again, the way Cal 3 divides California doesn’t do much to ease that concern. The new California would be dominated by elected officials from Los Angeles over those from the other central coast counties and Northern California would be dominated by Bay Area and Sacramento electeds over those from the rural north of the state.

There will definitely be money on both sides of this fight. Tim Draper, obviously, support is it and Democratic consultant Steve Maviglio is leading the effort to oppose and has been doing so for months. While there is definitely enough sentiment supporting the idea to split up California that Draper thinks it’s a worthwhile use of time and money, I don’t the votes – at the first step of passing the initiative or at the second step of getting the votes in Congress to sign off on this – for the plan to come to fruition.

This post was updated as of 8:45am on 6/14/17 to include a quote from McGeorge Professor Mary-Beth Moylan on the likelihood of the initiative holding up to legal challenges.

The Lobbyist/Legislative Staffer Dynamic with Chris Micheli and Erinn Ryberg (transcript)

Today’s podcast is a conversation between two familiar voices here on CAP·impact – veteran lobbyist Chris Micheli and veteran capitol staffer (turned lobbyist since recording) Erinn Ryberg – talking about one of the most critical dynamics in the California Legislature, the working dynamic between legislative staffer and lobbyist.

The two walk through how that dynamic plays out over the course of California’s legislative process, from bill introduction through the committee process to the floor. They talk about how different offices will staff bills differently, and how that can affect the dynamic between staff and lobbyist.

It’s a freewheeling conversation that takes a comprehensive look at how to establish a solid working relationship between staffer and lobbyist, and how the power dynamics between lobbyists, staffers, and members play out in California’s legislative process.

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from our two Legislative and Public Policy Clinic students, Michelle and Keri. While there isn’t a new interview with them up … yet, there is an update on their bill, AB 1784.

Last week – June 1 to be specific – was the house of origin deadline in the California Legislature. That means that any bill introduced in the Assembly needed to be passed off of the Assembly floor, and any bill introduced in the State Senate needed to passed off of the Senate floor by the end of business on June 1.

I’ll let this tweet from Assembly Member Brian Maienschein tell you what the fate of AB 1784 was in the State Assembly.

If anything, Asm. Maienschein is underselling the support for the bill, which passed the Assembly with a vote of 78-0 with no abstentions.

It’s first stop in the State Senate is the Senate Committee on Human Services. But before we get to that next hurdle, we’ll check back in with our intrepid bar exam studiers on the lead up to the floor vote in the State Assembly.




Influences Shaping California Legislation (transcript)

Today’s topic is influences shaping legislation in California.

Influencing legislation is a pretty complicated business, and there isn’t any particular model to basically predict whether a bill that is introduced in the California legislature will become law, and if so, what sort of form it would actually take. What we do know is that there are a number of different influences that impact and shape legislation in the state of California.

Our discussion today is looking at some of those factors that are worthy of our consideration, especially in light of developing any sort of legislative advocacy strategies.

When capital observers look at whether legislation will make it through the process, they look at a couple of initial questions. What is current law? That is obviously a legal question. What should be the law? That could be both a policy and/or a fiscal question. And then naturally, what are the politics of that situation that will impact the legislation? That’s naturally a political question.

All of these will have an influence on the shape of the legislation but there are a half a dozen or so particular factors that could impact and form legislation.

Those factors include:

  • The legislator’s political party affiliation
  • The needs and interests of the legislator’s district and constituents
  • The position of Leadership – the Assembly Speaker and the Senate Pro Tem
  • The position of interest groups that are either particularly friendly or unfriendly with the legislator
  • The legislator’s personal philosophy
  • How that legislator’s colleagues might vote on a bill
  • What ties does the legislator have with the bill’s author? Are they from the same party? Geographic regions? Etc.
  • The rules affecting the bill – rules in the house of origin, both houses, and certainly constitutional or statutory rules.
  • The Governor’s position on the bill

I go into more detail about how each of these influences can factor in to whether or not a bill becomes law in the podcast. I hope you enjoy.

Early returns are in from yesterday’s primary election here in California. Below is a recap of some key statewide races and some of the key Legislative and Congressional races with my thoughts on what last night’s results mean for the election in November. Unless otherwise noted, all the numbers referenced are courtesy of the hard work of the team at the Los Angeles Times (as of 10:00am) which has a running tracker of election results in California.


Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom (D) and businessman John Cox (R) advance to the General Election. While Cox has the support of President Trump and can self-fund his campaign. Newsom, who has been running for the job since 2015, has a sizeable war chest and California’s demographics on his side.  Democrats outnumber Republicans in California by nearly 2 to 1 (closer to 1.77 to 1), and as of May 21, there are more No Party Preference voters in California than Republicans. Newsom is currently ahead of Cox by a little under 300,000 votes, despite sharing the ballot with three other major Democratic candidates. Despite what President Trump thinks, I’d expect Newsom to strike Lieutenant from his job title and become California’s next Governor in November.

U.S. Senate

2018’s U.S. Senate race will be a repeat of 2016 as two Democrats will face off in November. Incumbent U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein has a sizeable advantage in terms of campaign cash and name ID over former State Senate Pro Tem Kevin De Leon, as evidenced by Senator Feinstein garnering 3.89 times as many votes as De Leon. This looks to be a replay of the Hillary/Bernie fight in 2016. I’d expect Senator Feinstein to keep her job.

Insurance Commissioner

Steve Poizner looks to be the first major No Party Preference candidate to make it to the General Election under California’s Top Two rules. Granted Poizner has previously held the Insurance Commissioner post and was formerly a Republican. Should Poizner be successful in his bid for Insurance Commissioner, he may be paving the way forward for more moderate Republicans looking to make an impact at the statewide level. He’ll face off against Democratic State Senator Ricardo Lara in November. Less than 25,000 votes currently separate the two, but Lara did have competition from fellow Democrat Asif Mahmood. This will be an interesting race to watch come November.

Gas Tax Proxy Fight

State Senator Josh Newman faced a recall election for voting in favor of the gas tax increase last year, and it appears that his yes vote will cost him his job. Voters favored the recall to the tune of 59% and will send former Assembly Member (and opponent of Josh Newman in the 2016 State Senate race) Ling Ling Chang to the State Senate to replace him.

The recall was viewed by many as a proxy fight for the upcoming repeal of the gas tax that will be on the ballot in November. Results here indicate that the new taxes and fees that are guaranteed to go to fixing California’s roads and bridges are in jeopardy with momentum currently favoring the repeal effort.

#MeToo at the Ballot Box

SD 32 Special Election – In the Special Election to fill out the rest of former State Senator Tony Mendoza’s term (he resigned earlier this year just before his colleagues were going to vote to expel him) came in third. In the primary election to determine who will take the seat for the new term, Mendoza is in fourth and more than 6,400 votes behind second-place finisher Bob Archuleta.

Special Elections in AD 39 and AD 45 – Democrat Luz Rivas came out ahead in the special election to replace Raul Bocanegra, who resigned last year. Rivas also came in first in the primary election for the next term.  Similarly, Jesse Gabriel (D) came in first in the special election and primary election to take over for Matt Dababneh, who also resigned.

AD 58 – Asm. Cristina Garcia (D) came in first in her primary, with Republican Mike Simpfenderfer close behind her in second. Garcia just returned to the job after taking an unpaid leave of absence from her position while allegations of sexual harassment against her were investigated. The investigation determined those allegations to be unfounded, although that result is being appealed.

The Fight to Flip the House

CD 10 – Democrats have been eyeing Rep. Jeff Denham’s seat as one to flip for as long as he’s held it, and an overabundance of Democratic candidates in the district could lead to them being shut out of the general election. Democrat Josh Harder currently sits in second, but leads Republican Ted Howze by 850 votes. The combined vote total for Democratic candidates was 31,308 – 6,600 more than Denham received. Had Democrats coalesced around just Harder instead of fielding six candidates, Denham would be biting his nails instead of Harder.

CD 22 and 25 – Incumbent Reps. Devin Nunes (R – CA 22) Steve Knight (R – CA 25) look to be safe. Both pulled in over 50% of the votes last night. Although Katie Hill, currently in second against Rep. Steve Knight, can coalesce the party support and get a boost from voters looking to put more women into office, she could give the incumbent a run for his money.

CD 39, 45, 48, 49, and 50 – These races in Orange and San Diego counties were where Democrats faced the serious possibility of having no candidates in the General Election, despite these districts going for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016. That’s because a glut of Democratic candidates nearly created a circular firing squad situation. Instead, it appears Democrats will have candidates on the ballot in November in each of these races. CD 39 and 49 are open seats and will be very competitive. The races in CD 48 and 50 feature embattled incumbents and should also be competitive. Of these five races, Rep. Mimi Walters (R) in CS 45 seems the safest, but all of these will be closely contested races and could be key in determining control of the U.S. House of Representatives.


In preparation for today’s Primary election in California – PSA: Don’t forget to vote – we are releasing a quick background of each of the Constitutional Officers and what they actually do in the California government.

Today, we are covering California’s Governor. Our current governor is Edmund G. Brown, known more commonly as Jerry Brown.

Most voters know about the Governor and some of the basic duties he or she has, however, there are some interesting lesser-known powers held by the Governor.

First, the Governor’s most well-known duty is signing into law bills passed by the California State Legislature. However, in contrast to the President of the United States, the California Governor has a pocket signature, meaning if the Governor fails to sign or veto a bill within the time allotted, the bill is passed and automatically becomes law without his or her signature. Conversely, the U.S. President has a pocket veto.

Obviously, the Governor has the power to veto bills passed by the California State Legislature. Vetoes can only be overruled by a two-thirds vote in both houses of the Legislature. He or she can also can also “line item veto” specific items within a bill or the state budget while leaving other items intact.

It is very rare that a Legislature will override the Governor’s veto. In California, “A veto override is a full-frontal assault on a governor’s authority, […] the political cost of taking on a governor usually far outweighs the policy gain that would come from overriding their veto,” said Thad Kousser, a political science professor at the University of California, San Diego. The last time the Legislature overruled a Governor’s veto was during Governor Brown’s first administration in 1979, where the Legislature overruled Governor Brown’s veto to give state workers a 14.5% pay hike.

The California Constitution allows for the Governor to assign and reorganize functions among executive officers and agencies and their employees, unless the executive officers are elected. The Governor is also granted the power to control the militia and pardon people facing conviction in California. Of course all of these powers are subject to statutory limitations made by the California Legislature.

The Governor must also report to the Legislature each calendar year on the condition of the State – known as the State of the State address – and may make recommendations on future legislation. These recommendations happen regularly, such as when Governor Brown spearheaded the campaigns for a Rainy Day Fund for the next economic recession in 2014.

Within the first 10 days of each calendar year, the Governor is legally required to submit a balanced budget to the Legislature. In turn, the Legislature is legally required to adopt a balanced budget by midnight on June 15 of each calendar year.

Molly Alcorn contributed to this post.