Generational change and term limits are conspiring to set up a major power shift in California politics in the next few years: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) will retire, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) faces term limits, and just about every other statewide officeholder is contemplating a promotion.
The first domino, though, will fall later this month, when Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D) relinquishes the gavel he has held since 2016. He’ll give power to Assemblyman Robert Rivas (D), 43, who will take over after more than a year of jockeying for the position.
We sat down with Rivas in his office a few weeks ago for a wide-ranging chat about his priorities, his approach to leadership, and his background — he grew up in rural San Benito County, in farmworker housing, the son of an immigrant mother who became a teacher.
Don’t miss our full interview here.
Rivas told us he plans to travel the state as much as possible, to work with fellow lawmakers and to provide what he called “clarity” and “engagement” from the Speaker’s office. He was quick to say that he didn’t mean that as a knock on Rendon, though the tension between the two — and within the entire Assembly’s Democratic caucus — seems to be a scab that hasn’t quite healed.
Rivas has plenty of room to operate: Democrats hold a whopping 62 of 80 seats in the Assembly. But the balance of power between the Assembly, a governor who clearly has higher ambitions and a Senate that likes to get its own way is always a tricky one to strike.
Here are nine things you might have missed in the states this week:
TECHNOLOGY: Legislators in Connecticut, Louisiana and Texas have approved or updated comprehensive data privacy laws in recent weeks. Lawmakers in Ohio included parental permission for social media accounts in the state budget currently under debate, and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) has directed state agencies to develop education campaigns on the harms of social media. (Pluribus News)
New Jersey’s Assembly Judiciary Committee has approved legislation banning the distribution of election-related deepfakes within 90 days of an election. The committee also approved a bill establishing a crime of using deepfake technology to assist in other offenses. (New Jersey Globe)
CULTURE WARS: Illinois will become the first state to require libraries to adopt policies against book bans, under a new bill Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed Monday. Blue state governors last week wrote to the Association of American Publishers and nine education companies urging them not to censor education materials. (Pluribus News)
LGBTQ RIGHTS: Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo (R) signed legislation requiring health insurers to cover gender-affirming care for transgender minors and adults. Nevada’s representative to the Republican National Committee criticized Lombardo’s decision to sign the bill. (Nevada Independent)
The Michigan House voted to ban conversion therapy. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued an order in 2021 blocking state and federal funding for conversion therapy. (Detroit News) An Ohio House committee approved a bill banning gender-affirming care for minors. Speaker Jason Stephens (R) said he would bring the bill to the House floor next week. (Columbus Dispatch)
North Carolina Senate committees have approved legislation banning transgender girls from participating in women’s sports from middle school through college. The House and Senate previously passed different versions of the bill. (Raleigh News & Observer) Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has signed legislation banning transgender athletes from college sports that conform to their gender identity. (Dallas Morning News)
AUTO DEALERS: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has signed legislation banning most direct-to-consumer vehicle sales — with an exception that allows manufacturers to hold franchise dealer licenses for direct sales of electric vehicles. The carve-out will allow Tesla to continue operating its showrooms. (Florida Politics)
TECHNOLOGY: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has signed legislation pumping $1.4 billion into microchip research and manufacturing incentive programs in a bid to lure the industry to his state. Samsung has already committed to building a new facility in Taylor, and Texas Instruments will build a manufacturing plant in Sherman. (Texas Tribune)
CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek (D) has signed legislation increasing punishments for those caught street racing. Those convicted of street racing could face up to 364 days in prison and a $6,250 fine for their first offense. (Oregonian) New York lawmakers gave final approval to a bill that will automatically seal misdemeanor criminal records three years after sentencing, and felony records eight years after someone is released from prison. The bill does not apply to class A felonies or crimes that require someone to register as a sex offender. (State of Politics)
OREGON: Senate Republicans have ended a six-week walkout after Democrats agreed to change bills relating to gun control and abortion rights, which the Senate approved late Thursday. Legislators have nine days left in the regular session; the end of the walkout likely means they can avoid a special session. (Pluribus News)
NEVADA: Gov. Joe Lombardo (R) has signed a public financing package that will spend up to $380 million on the proposed $1.5 billion stadium that would be home to the Oakland Athletics beginning in 2027. The stadium would be constructed on the site of the Tropicana Hotel. (Nevada Independent)
POLITICS: A new poll released by the Northwest Progressive Institute finds Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D) leading the race to replace retiring Gov. Jay Inslee (D) with 25%, followed by Yakima physician Raul Garcia (R) at 17%, Richland School Board member Semi Bird (R) at 10%, Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz (D) at 9% and state Sen. Mark Mullet (D) at 7%. The top two vote-getters advance to a general election regardless of party affiliation. (Crosscut)
Montana state Rep. Tanner Smith (R) will run for governor in 2024. Smith did not say why he decided to run against Gov. Greg Gianforte (R), who has not formally announced his re-election bid. (Missoulian)
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) signed a state-level voting rights act that will require municipalities with a record of voter discrimination to pre-clear voting changes, prevent municipalities from interfering with the right to vote of any protected class and requiring language-related assistance in places where many people do not speak English well. (CT Mirror)
In New York, legislators gave final approval to a measure that will allow New Yorkers to cast ballots early by mail. Voters in 2021 rejected a constitutional amendment to allow no-excuse absentee voting. (State of Politics)