Newsom and Lawmakers Wave the White Flag on Prop 47 Reform

In a stunning turn of events last night, Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic lawmakers announced they were dropping a proposed ballot measure that would have competed with the Prop 47 reform initiative backed by local district attorneys.

The Democrats' competing measure, Prop 2, offered a more lenient path for addressing some of the concerns surrounding Prop 47 and crime. Critics had accused Newsom and Democratic leaders of trying to sabotage efforts at meaningful reform.

“We are unable to meet the ballot deadline to secure necessary amendments to ensure this measure’s success and we will be withdrawing it from consideration,” Newsom said in a statement. “I’d like to thank the Legislature and countless stakeholders who came to the table to work on meaningful reforms and I look forward to our work ahead.”

Newsom had seemed dead set on stopping, or at least wounding, the Homelessness Drug and Theft Reduction Act. The decision to throw in the towel after weeks of negotiations was both surprising and embarrassing.

Interestingly, it appears that President Joe Biden’s poor performance at last week’s presidential debate may have played a role. Newsom – who has already been accused of ‘checking out’ as governor – flew to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday to “stand with the President.” Wednesday is when the vote on Prop 2 was supposed to be held, and Newsom normally would have been rallying lawmakers.

Newsom placed the blame on the California District Attorneys Association, which sponsored the Homelessness Drug and Theft Reduction Act. He accused them of refusing to negotiate on efforts to combat crime. That’s a charge the association flatly denies. 

It’s now up to voters in November to overhaul the law they passed ten years ago or embrace the status quo.