Woman Signs California Bill Into Law in a 171-Year First

Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis to act as governor until Newsom returns
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 31, 2022 7:20 PM CDT
In a First, a Woman Signs California Bill Into Law
California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis displays a pair of bills she signed into law in Sacramento. Behind her are, from left, Assembly members Blanca Rubio, Buffy Wicks, Speaker Anthony Rendon, Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins, Assemblyman Tim Grayson and Sen. Josh Becker.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

For the first time in California's 171-year history, a woman has signed a bill into state law. Gov. Gavin Newsom normally signs the laws in California, but he left the state on Wednesday night for a family vacation in Central and South America. State law requires Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis to act as governor until he returns. The Legislature on Thursday morning passed a bill to extend a law preventing some renters from being evicted until the end of June, the AP reports. The bill had to be signed into law on Thursday because the old law was set to expire, and tens of thousands of renters could have been evicted starting Friday.

It ended up being an historic moment for the nation's most populous state, which despite its reputation as the country's progressive powerhouse has never elected a woman as governor. "It was very humbling. And I did feel that sense of history," said Kounalakis, who also signed a separate bill relating to elections on Thursday. "For many years women have been writing legislation ... but no woman has ever signed a bill into law. And it felt like a moment in history that we should recognize as important." California is one of 19 states that have never elected a woman as governor.

Historically, women don't run for governor at the same rate as they do other offices, said Jean Sinzdak, of the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University. She said women usually make up about 25% of gubernatorial candidates nationwide. It's one reason there have been just 45 women who served as governors in US history. "People have these kind of unconscious biases, even against women in the executive position when they are the boss," said Kim Nalder, professor of political science at California State University, Sacramento. "When they are members of a legislature they are members of a group. That plays into the positive stereotypes people have about women being good at collaboration."

(Read more California stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.