Local News

Newsom Vetoes Senate Bill

By: Emily Duvall

Opinion Editor

California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed Senate Bill 527 on Monday, Aug. 22. This bill would have allowed safe drug injection sites to open in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Oakland. The sites intended to address the growing crisis surrounding illicit drug use and overdose deaths in California. The state would have been the third in the country to authorize safe injection sites, following New York and Rhode Island. 

Newsom’s decision surprised many California residents with his decision to veto this bill. In 2018, when former Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill, Newsom stated to the SF Chronicle in an interview that he was “very, very open” to the idea of safe injection sites if he were elected governor. 

According to the Sacramento Bee, pundits speculate that Newsom wants to run for president as the Democratic candidate in 2024, and therefore vetoing this bill may allow him to appeal to some conservative voters who may not have been open to him and his views originally. Aside from this speculation, Newsom stated in his veto letter, “I am acutely concerned about the operations of safe injection sites without strong, engaged local leadership and well-documented, vetted, and thoughtful operational and sustainability plans.” The Governor says he is open to a “truly limited pilot program” in the future. 

The vetoing of the bill has elicited various different reactions from both Democrats and Republicans across California, as well as the country. Democrats who wanted to see the bill passed saw this as an opportunity for Newsom to provide relief for the growing rates of overdoses and hospitalizations from illicit drug use, especially fentanyl. These Democrats wanted to see Newsom take steps toward addressing the state’s growing opioid drug problem. Republicans who were against the bill said that these sites would further encourage the use of illicit drugs and further make addictions and issues worse. Most Republicans expressed support for Newsom’s decision, as they believe these sites would promote drug use. Scott Wilk, California’s Senate Republican leader, shared that he believes, “People struggling with addiction need help, not a legal place to shoot up.”

Although they may enact another bill in the future due to California’s growing issues involving drug overdoses, Senate Bill 527 will not be put into effect after Newsom’s veto.

(Source: Sacramento Bee, SF Chronicle, NY Times)

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