Friday, December 26, 2014

Democrats win supermajority in Assembly

From page A2 | November 15, 2012 |

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, left, talks with Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, during an election night party Nov. 6  in Sacramento.  AP photo

In this photo taken Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, Senate President Pr Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, left, talks with Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles during an election night party in in Sacramento, Calif. Democrats gained a two-thirds majority in the Senate in Tuesday's election giving them the ability to raise taxes and over ride vetoes without Republican support. Democrats are also poised to gain a super-majority in the Assembly, however two races remain to close to call. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

SACRAMENTO (AP) — Democrats have gained a supermajority in both houses of the California Legislature for the first time since the 19th century, after the Assembly reached the critical two-thirds threshold Wednesday.

That gives California’s majority party complete dominance of state politics and the ability to raise taxes unilaterally if they choose. The party already had secured a two-thirds majority in the state Senate after last week’s election.

Voting results in two key Assembly districts announced this week will give Democrats 54 seats in the 80-member Assembly, for a bare two-thirds majority. On Wednesday, The Associated Press called the 65th Assembly District race in Orange County for Democratic challenger Sharon Quirk-Silva.

She unseated incumbent Republican Assemblyman Chris Norby, 51.3 percent to 48.7 percent.

“They have spoken, and it looks like my 28 years in elected life is coming to an end,” said Norby, who sat on the Fullerton City Council and Orange County Board of Supervisors before being elected to the Legislature. “But I was glad of the three years I had up there.”

He said eliminating community redevelopment agencies remains his biggest accomplishment because he viewed them as “huge drain of public resources toward crony capitalism and eminent domain abuse.”

This marks the first time since 1933, when Republicans were in control, that one party has held simultaneous supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature. The last time Democrats held supermajorities in the Assembly and Senate was 1883, about the time electricity was being developed for general use.

A two-thirds majority in both houses is enough for Democrats to approve tax increases, pass emergency legislation, override gubernatorial vetoes, place constitutional amendments before voters and change legislative rules while ignoring Republicans.

When the Legislature convenes next month, it will be the first time since 1978 that Democrats hold an Assembly supermajority, and it will be the first time since 1965 that they’ll have a supermajority in the Senate.

“If this is what the voters statewide want, this is what they have,” Norby said of the supermajorities. “But at the same time, we Republicans have to continue to offer a positive alternative, as well. I tried to do that working with Democrats on redevelopment, on marijuana law reform … and also on education reform, as well, especially English-language learner program.”

Quirk-Silva issued a statement to supporters Wednesday night saying voters sent a message that they wanted representation from someone “who would take our constituents’ stories and values to the capitol and pursue their priorities.”

Democratic leaders from both chambers have pledged to use their new power wisely, and Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown has promised to rein in any excessive spending that might upset the state’s recovering budget. All three contended that no tax increases are imminent, given that voters just last week approved Brown’s Proposition 30, raising the statewide sales tax and increasing income taxes on the wealthy.

On Wednesday, before it was certain the Assembly would reach the two-thirds threshold, Brown said it will be his job to control the spending impulses of his fellow Democrats and ensure the state exercises fiscal discipline and builds a rainy day fund.

“There are fat years and there are lean years,” Brown told reporters. “And my guide here is Joseph’s recommendation to Pharaoh: ‘Put your grain in your grainery against the tough times that are coming.'”

Yet Republicans already are anticipating that Democrats will try to eliminate tax exemptions, broaden the tax base and make other changes to boost revenue as they attempt to reverse or reduce some of the state’s recent deep budget cuts. They also are free to adopt some of the social and labor programs that are a priority of their allies in organized labor.

“Now we’re going on an unprecedented spending and taxing binge,” predicted Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, who has been the Assembly Republicans’ point man on the budget.

A supermajority gives Democrats “a blank check, a ticket to spend whatever they want,” said Nielsen, who is the front-runner to fill a vacant Republican seat in the Senate.

Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, denied that intent a day after the election. At the time, he said he would not use the supermajority to raise taxes or other revenue, and he downplayed the importance of the two-thirds threshold, calling it “just a number.”

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, was more expansive and has outlined a broader agenda that includes changing the tax code, the ballot initiative process and perhaps asking voters to legalize same-sex marriage.

“I promise that we will exercise this new power with strength, but also with humility and with reason,” he said last week.

And while the legislative leaders downplayed the possibility, Democrats now have enough votes to override Brown’s vetoes. For example, he has rejected bills that would have given overtime pay, meal breaks and other labor protections to caregivers, nannies and house cleaners in California, as well as legislation by Perez that would have expanded death benefits for the families of public safety workers.

The Office of the Chief Clerk of the Assembly said there have been no gubernatorial overrides since 1979, when Brown was governor the first time.


By Don Thompson. Associated Press writers Judy Lin and Hannah Dreier in Sacramento contributed to this report.



The Associated Press



Transit survey: 47 percent ride bikes to UCD campus

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Exchange students bring the world to Davis

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Pastor has many plans for CA House

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Playing Santa

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2 | Gallery

Goats help recycle Christmas trees

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

Special holiday gifts

By Sue Cockrell | From Page: A3

Woodland-Davis commute bus service expands

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Learn fruit tree tips at free class

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Davis Bike Club hears about British cycling tour

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Pick up a Davis map at Chamber office

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Sierra Club calendars on sale Saturday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Explorit: Get a rise out of science

By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4

NAMI meeting offers family support

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Yoga, chanting intro offered

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8



Blamed for her sister’s rage

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

How much for the calling birds?

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

Steve Sack cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

Many ensured a successful parade

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Thanks for putting food on the table

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10



Two more for the road for 9-1 Aggie men

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Patterson is college football’s top coach

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Clippers get a win over Golden State

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

NBA roundup: Heat beat Cavs in LeBron’s return to Miami

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10 | Gallery





‘Unbroken': A bit underwhelming

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

Folk musicians will jam on Jan. 2

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11



Passat: Roomy, affordable sedan with German engineering

By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3 | Gallery



James J. Dunning Jr.

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Floyd W. Fenocchio

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4



Comics: Friday, December 26, 2014 (set 2)

By Creator | From Page: B7

Comics: Thursday, December 26, 2014 (set 1)

By Creator | From Page: A9