Bills Reaching Governor Gavin Newsom’s Desk

With the conclusion of the 2021 Legislative Session on September 10, Governor Gavin Newsom will be considering just over 800 bills. When a bill is passed by the Legislature and sent to the Governor, there are three actions that can occur:

(1) sign the bill into law;

(2) veto the bill; or

(3) allow the bill to become law without a signature (“pocket signature”).

The options available to the Governor can be found in Section 10 of Article IV of the California Constitution.

Signature by the Governor

This year, Governor Newsom has until October 10 to act on the bills sent to his Desk. When the Governor approves a bill, he signs it, dates it and deposits it with the Secretary of State. This copy is the official record and law of the state. The Secretary of State (in consultation with the Governor’s Office) assigns the bill a number known as the “chapter number.”

The bills are numbered consecutively in the order in which they are received and the resulting sequence is presumed to be the order in which the bills were approved by the Governor. There is only one sequence of chapter numbers maintained for each year of the regular session of the Legislature. As a result, the numbers do not continue in the second year of the Session. In addition, a separate set of chapter numbers is maintained for each special session.

Veto by the Governor

When the Governor vetoes a bill, he returns it with his objections to the bill to the house of origin. The house of origin may consider the veto immediately or place it on the “unfinished business file.” The Legislature has 60 calendar days, with days in joint recess excluded, to act upon the vetoed bill. If no action has been taken during this time, then the measure is removed from the file and the veto is effective. Veto overrides are rare. The Legislature has not overridden a Governor’s veto since 1979.

Allowed to Become Law without the Governor’s Signature

California has a “pocket signature” rule. If the Governor does not act on the measure within the allotted time, then the bill becomes law without his or her signature. This rarely occurs. Governor Brown, for example, only did this with two or three bills during his second stint as governor.

Historical Look at How Many Bills Get to the Governor’s Desk

Prior to the Legislature imposing bill limits in both houses beginning in the 1990s, a typical legislative year resulted in a low of 850 bills and a high of over 2,100 bills being sent to the Governor’s Desk for final consideration. Looking back of the last twenty years and prior four Governors, we have the following statistics:

  • During Governor Wilson’s 8 years in office, between 1,050 – 1,700 bills were sent to him annually, and he vetoed between 8% – 24% of them
  • During Governor Davis’ 5 years in office, between 950 – 1,450 bills were sent to him annually, and he vetoed between 6% – 25% of them
  • During Governor Schwarzenegger’s 7 years in office, between 900 – 1,250 bills were sent to him annually, and he vetoed between 22% – 35% of them
  • During Governor Brown’s (second) 8 years in office, between 850 – 1,200 bills were sent to him annually, and he vetoed between 10% – 15% of them

Governor Newsom’s Bill Actions

The 2021 Legislative Session is the third legislative year of Governor Newsom’s time in office. The following are his statistics:

  • During Governor Newsom’s first year in office, just over 1,000 bills were sent to him, and he vetoed 16.5% of them
  • During Governor Newsom’s second year in office, when 9 weeks of Session were lost and the total number of introduced bills to be considered were reduced by 76%, just over 425 bills were sent to him, and he vetoed 13% of them
  • During Governor Newsom’s third year in office, also impacted by the pandemic, just over 800 bills have been sent to him. So far, he has signed all 159 bills sent to his Desk. He has about 300 bills already pending and close to 400 additional measures headed his way from the final week of Session.

On October 11, we will have a determination of how many bills he signs and vetoes.

Chris Micheli is a lobbyist with Aprea & Micheli, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law.

This article was originally published by the California Globe.


  1. “With the conclusion of the 2021 Legislative Session on September 10, Governor Gavin Newsom will be considering just over 800 bills.”
    800 Bills and the governor has 30 days to consider them. That means he has to review and decide nearly 28 bills a day including Saturdays and Sundays. One excellent reason Kommiefornia should go back to a part time citizen legislature. Rhetorical question: How many of these 800 Bills are actually needed?

  2. None? The bills are poorly written and generally serve special interests, unions especially. The State doesn’t need more regulations, few of which are understood, and specious at best.

  3. Of the 1,000 or so new bills that get signed into law each year, each usually targets an industry with more regulations, fees, or both, but very few bills achieve the goal of “being good for all the residents of the State”.

    Most bills are not discriminatory. They address specific perceived ills with the intent of bettering industries like food, health, transportation, hospitality and energy.

    Most fall flat, with their achievements only resulting in more red tape rather than any overall improvements. The extra costs imposed via added fees are initially absorbed by the targeted industry, but are ultimately passed on to the consumers, usually the working-class residents, who use the services or products provided by these industries in their everyday lives.

  4. I love the idea of a part time legislature, say, 6 months. May have a decent shot via Proposition,

  5. Enjoy the last things you will sign for the citizens of California because Tuesday you are history,,,, students, parents, military will be voting to recall your ass,,,,You will still have the teachers unions but that is all you will have….And for the voting boxes that appear out of nowhere? we will have a bunch as well……bye bye newsom

  6. James Healey says

    Max, YES!!! Too bad we can’t recall all the Commissars in the People’s Republic of CAlifornia Legislature!!

  7. If the current crop of governance is so great, why is everything so screwed up. Cal-Trans doesn’t have a phone number. Someone tell me what that’s all about. This could be the reason they have so few complaints. One of the largest public departments in state government doesn’t have a phone number where they can be reached.

Speak Your Mind