The Forward | California Briefing: Newsom on the Clock

The Forward | California Briefing: Newsom on the Clock

BY LOUIS KEENE | September 4, 2022

The bills in Newsom’s court


A pair of bills lobbied for by Jewish community groups and passed by the California state legislature in August are currently sitting on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk (or on his computer screen, or on his lackey’s computer screen, or on their phone — you get it). It’s up to Newsom to sign them.


The first is an expansion of nonprofit security grant funding. California’s existing policy allows synagogues and other nonprofits to apply for up to $200,000 in security funding per year. While it was the biggest such program in the country at $50 million annually, it was due to expire after 2025. The new bill makes it permanent and enables nonprofits to apply for up to $500,000.


The second would force major social media companies to regularly disclose to the Department of Justice their policies to combat hate on their platforms. The more we force them to say what they’re doing, the more they’ll actually have to do, the thinking goes.


To David Bocarsly, executive director of the Jewish Public Affairs Committee, which lobbies California legislators on behalf of major Jewish organizations, these two bills are part of a strategy to address “the whole lifespan of hate.” They’re trying to prevent it from taking root through Holocaust education funding ($1.4 million); trying to stop it from spreading on social media; and trying to keep vulnerable communities safe from people whose hatred has translated into evil intent.

The operative word here is trying, which is a compliment I admit sounds like a diss. The task is daunting, and trying is about all the legislators can do. But the governor has to sign off — and in the case of the security grants, sacrifice some flexibility in future budgets — for their efforts to have a chance.


Louis Keene, our LA-based news reporter, provides a California lens on the Jewish world and a Jewish one on California news — riffs and links on politics, celebrities, sports and life in the Golden State.