File: State Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, talks with seat mate Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, in Sacramento, Thursday, May 16, 2013.
California Democrats lost their supermajority in the state Senate on Sunday, when Sen. Ron Calderon took an indefinite leave of absence to fight federal corruption charges. The legislative impact was felt Monday, when two proposals pushed by Democrats failed to garner the necessary Republican support.
Less than two years ago, California Democrats won historic two-thirds control over both the Senate and the Assembly—nixing the need for a single Republican vote on any piece of legislation. It was the first time in more than 80 years that one party controlled two-thirds of both houses.
Now, with two Democratic Senators on leave facing criminal charges—Calderon of Montebello and Sen. Roderick Wright of Inglewood—the ranks of Democratic senators is down to 26 of 40—one under the majority won in 2012. This means, for the first time in a while, they’ll need GOP help to move legislation.
On Monday, a Democrat-led effort to revamp campaign finance fell one vote short of the necessary two-thirds majority. Lacking Republican support, Democrats also shelved a proposed constitutional amendment to overturn the state's ban on affirmative action in higher education.
Democrats could win back their supermajority before the end of the legislative session on August 31—if a Democrat is elected in a special election to replace Sen. Wright. In the meantime, the shift is sure to lead to more partisan battles in Sacramento.
Would you like to see the Democrats to regain a supermajority? Or is the legislative process healthier without a supermajority? Do you want to see more bipartisan agreement?
Dan Walters, Columnist, The Sacramento Bee