This story appeared on Calmatters
World Mental Health Day started bright and early Tuesday with Gov. Gavin Newsom announcing he has signed a key part of his overhaul of California’s mental health policy that will loosen rules about who is eligible for involuntary treatment.
As CalMatters’ health reporter Jocelyn Wiener explains, under the new law, the legal definition of who can be deemed “gravely disabled” will be expanded to take into consideration whether a person fails to provide for their own medical care or personal safety. In addition to mental illness, severe substance use disorder and chronic alcoholism would be factors. The move is a significant departure from decades-long civil liberties policies that protected Californians with mental illness from being confined against their will.
The legislation is part of a series of actions the governor has been carrying out to address the state’s dual mental health and homelessness crises. Earlier this month, the first seven counties kicked off their CARE Courts program, an initiative Newsom championed to treat people with untreated schizophrenia and other severe mental illnesses. The governor is also expected to sign legislation for a March ballot measure to create housing for homeless people with mental illnesses.
But some critics of the new law argue that it is a “huge erosion of civil rights,” and raise concerns that more people will be funneled involuntarily into treatment facilities. They’re also skeptical that it will effectively address California’s homelessness crisis.
And he vetoed others:
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While California’s political world waits for Sen. Laphonza Butler’s decision on running next year, someone else slid Tuesday into the U.S. Senate race: Steve Garvey, former L.A. Dodgers great and Republican.
If the campaign was missing a little celebrity star-power, Garvey might fit the bill. He played for the Dodgers from 1969 to 1982 (including a National League MVP in 1974 and a World Series title in 1981), and then for the San Diego Padres from 1983 to 1987.
And at least according to a poll released last month, he immediately catches up, or even jumps slightly ahead, of the two Republicans already in the race. Garvey was the choice of 7% of likely voters surveyed, while James Bradley also came in at 7% and Eric Early at 5%, according to the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies survey.
All the Republicans, and Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee, are well behind the two leaders: Reps. Adam Schiff and Katie Porter, both Democrats. They came in at 20% and 17%, respectively, and their numbers didn’t change whether Garvey was in the race or not.
But the poll found 32% of likely voters undecided, and if Butler decides to run, it would further scramble the campaign.
Reminder: All the candidates are competing to finish either first or second in the March 5 primary. The top two, regardless of party, move on to the November general election. And because of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s death, there will be simultaneous elections to determine who serves out the final two months of her term.
While Democrats hold a huge majority among California’s registered voters, if the three — or four — Democratic candidates divide the vote and if one of the Republicans is able to unify GOP voters, he could make it into the top two.
Garvey says he voted for Donald Trump twice for president. And it was crystal clear from the California Republican Party convention last month that Trump is in control.
Garvey is emphasizing crime, education and homelessness on his new campaign website. But will he offer policy solutions, not just sound bites?
Looking ahead to future elections, many more local politicians in California could be deciding their own election districts unless the Legislature passes bills again and Gov. Newsom changes his mind.
CalMatters’ state Capitol reporter Sameea Kamal writes that Newsom vetoed the most sweeping bill for independent redistricting commissions. He cited budget concerns, but supporters are perplexed because costs wouldn’t register until closer to the 2030 Census, which kicks off the next round of redistricting.
The veto was backed, however, by the California State Association of Counties, Rural County Representatives of California and Urban Counties of California, which raised concerns about their costs.
The governor did sign Assembly Bill 764, also sponsored by Common Cause, that seeks to address ambiguities in current redistricting laws regardless of who does the mapping. He also signed Senate Bill 314 that establishes a citizens redistricting commission for the Sacramento County board of supervisors and AB 34 that creates a similar commission in Orange County.
The two counties join a handful of others that have independent redistricting panels. The most populous county, Los Angeles, does not. And Newsom vetoed another bill that would have required an independent panel in L.A. and other charter cities. For more details, read Sameea’s story.
Over the summer, Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas sent asylum-seeking migrants from South America to California without prior notice — generating headlines for the political fracas it flamed between Gov. Newsom and the two Republicans.
But what happened to the migrants themselves?
As Alejandra Reyes-Velarde and Justo Robles of CalMatters’ California Divide team explain, some were met with an under-resourced local support system in Sacramento, while others were swiftly integrated into the community in Los Angeles.
This disparity is due, in part, to money. In June, a coalition of religious organizations, known as Sacramento Area Congregations Together, quickly moved to assist with the migrants’ immediate needs. It also asked the county for nearly $194,000 to cover the cost of 17 hotel rooms for four months, and the salaries of a case manager and staff. But Sacramento County ultimately did not release the money.
Meanwhile in Los Angeles, officials began preparing in the spring for a potential increase in migrants due to the impending end of a pandemic health rule that allowed border officials to turn away migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. The county received millions of dollars from the state, including a $1.3 million contract with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, and $2 million in the state budget for nonprofits providing aid to newly arriving migrants.
For Aura Silva, one of the migrants who found herself in Sacramento, moving to Memphis, Tennessee ended up being the only way that she could support herself and her family back in Colombia.
For more about the different experiences for migrants in Sacramento and Los Angeles, read Alejandra and Justo’s story.
CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: Gov. Newsom cites economic uncertainty in his vetoes as the state awaits October tax returns.
Struggling community hospitals across California can’t afford the proposed $25 minimum wage for health care workers, writes Craig S. Castro, president and CEO of Community Health System.
This was a good year for prescribed burns, so why didn’t CA do more? // KQED
PG&E faces $45M fine for huge and destructive wildfire // The Mercury News
As climate risks mount, the insurance safety net is collapsing // Grist
What roadkill can tell us about Californa’s deer and mountain lion populations // CapRadio
Healthcare workers kick off 5-day strike at four hospitals over staffing // Los Angeles Times
Writers easily ratify new contract as post-strike anxieties loom // Los Angeles Times
A lot of ideas to revive downtown SF, but do any make sense? // San Francisco Chronicle
SF drug crisis panel hasn’t met in months due to vacancies // The San Francisco Standard