SACRAMENTO — California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a bill making April 24 a California statewide holiday. The measure was spearheaded by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian.
The bill mandates that every year on April 24, all community colleges and public schools throughout California will close. State employees will be given time off with pay.
The text of the bill explains: “The Legislature finds and declares that Genocide Remembrance Day would be a day for all to reflect on past and present genocides, but especially those that have felt the impact of these atrocities and groups that have found refuge in California, including, but not limited to, the Holocaust, Holodomor, and the Genocides of the Armenian, Assyrian, Greek, Cambodian, and Rwandan communities. Genocide Remembrance Day would be observed annually on April 24, also known as Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, during the week the state of California traditionally recognizes Genocide Awareness Week.”
The text further states that on April 24 or on an alternate date “public schools and educational institutions throughout this state may include exercises, funded through existing resources, remembering and honoring the many contributions that survivors of genocide have made to this country. The State Board of Education may adopt a model curriculum guide to be available for use by public schools for exercises related to Genocide Remembrance Day.”
“I am signing Assembly Bill 1801 , which establishes Genocide Remembrance Day as a state holiday to be observed on April 24, and permits public schools and community colleges to close in observance of this holiday. This bill also permits state employees to utilize eight hours of vacation, annual leave, or compensating time off in lieu of receiving eight hours of personal holiday credit to observe Genocide Remembrance Day,” said Newsom in a signing statement.
“Genocide commemoration is more than a history lesson. It is a powerful tool to engage people across generations in the sanctity of human rights, the enormity of crimes, and how to prevent future atrocities. Establishing a state holiday that commemorates genocides – both past and present – provides space for groups to heal and sends a powerful signal about our California values. Importantly, California continues to lead by example, with a strong record of providing refuge to countless groups suffering through the atrocity of genocide,” Newsom added.
“I am immensely proud of the richness of diversity and backgrounds represented in our state and understand the importance of wanting to see one’s own experience reflected in state holidays. While I am signing this bill and two other bills that also mark two significant days, before increasing the number of state holidays beyond the more than a dozen already recognized, I encourage the Legislature to identify criteria to help evaluate and inform future establishment of additional state holidays,” concluded Newsom.
The State Assembly and Senate members worked tirelessly for months to have both chambers of the California legislature adopt this bill. The odyssey started on February 7, 2022 when it was introduced in the State Assembly. The bill passed through several committees: Governmental Organization: 20 yes, 0 no; Higher Education: 12 yes, 0 no; Appropriations: 12 yes, 0 no; and the full State Assembly on May 26, 2022 by a vote of 75 yes and 0 no.
The bill then went to the State Senate passing through the following committees: Governmental Organization: 14 yes, 0 no; Education: 6 yes, 0 no; Appropriations: 7 yes, 0 no; and the full Senate on August 23, 2022 by a vote of 40 yes 0 no. The bill then went back to the State Assembly on August 24, 2022 in order to reconcile it with Senate amendments. It passed by a vote of 77 yes, 0 no.
The bill was then submitted to California Governor Gavin Newsom for his signature on August 31, 2022.