Prison plans expose rift with key Calif. Democrats

California Budget

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

File: Budget Conference Committee chairmen, Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Woodland Hills, left, and Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, right, shake hands as Gov. Jerry Brown signs the state budget at the Capitol Thursday, June 27, 2013, in Sacramento, Calif. Democratic leaders in the state Senate and Assembly have been sparred over numerous pieces of important legislation.

Democrats began the year with a legislative advantage no party had seen in 80 years in California — a two-thirds supermajority in both houses of the Legislature.

Yet since then, the party's leaders in the state Senate and Assembly have sparred over numerous pieces of important legislation. This week, a public feud erupted over how best to respond to a federal court order to reduce California's prison population by the end of the year.

The stakes are high if they can't agree, with federal judges poised to override state law and order early releases of convicts

The gulf between Assembly Speaker John Perez of Los Angeles and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento also jeopardizes this year's key bills just as they are heading for their final votes.

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