SACRAMENTO — Members of Orange County's all-Republican delegation in the Assembly voted as a bloc on most key issues during 1987, and those who broke away usually took positions more conservative than their GOP colleagues, a review of the year's voting patterns shows.
In the Senate, Orange County's four Republican members appeared evenly split between the GOP's conservative and moderate wings. Sen. Cecil Green of Norwalk, the lone Democrat representing a portion of Orange County, almost always voted with the party leaders who helped him win his seat in a special election earlier this year.
The Times' review of voting patterns included 17 bills affecting taxes, education, AIDS, abortion, smoking and the minimum wage. Also included were measures on toll roads, "parenting leave" for workers, the civil justice system and affirmative action.
Although lawmakers in a typical year vote on hundreds of bills--more than 3,000 in 1987--relatively few are still controversial by the time they reach the floor of the Assembly or Senate. It is the partisan clashes these bills provoke that often tell the most about the leanings or loyalty of a particular legislator.
In such fights, the seven men and one woman who represent Orange County in the Assembly usually can be expected to toe the Republican Party line. Or, as they like to say, their thoughts are the party line.
"It's obvious that the Orange County group is pretty much the center part of the conservative movement in the Republican Party," said Assemblyman Gil Ferguson (R-Newport Beach). "It isn't that we vote like they do. It's that the Republican Caucus votes pretty much like the Orange County assemblymen."
Of the 17 Assembly votes reviewed by The Times, the Orange County Republicans voted as a bloc 10 times. On five others, the Orange County members were split, but a majority voted in line with the majority of Assembly Republicans from the rest of the state.
Dissent on 2 Issues
On only two of the 17 measures did a majority of Orange County members vote differently from a majority of the Assembly GOP:
- Just three of Orange County's eight members voted for a measure to protect local governments and elected officials from personal injury lawsuits, while a majority of the other GOP members of the Assembly approved it.
- Orange County's Assembly members voted 5 to 2, with one absention, in favor of a nonpartisan bill to ban smoking on California airline flights, while a majority of Republicans rejected it. Gov. George Deukmejian signed both bills.
The Orange County member who broke ranks with the GOP leadership most often on key issues this year was Assemblywoman Doris Allen of Cypress. She was the only Assembly member from the county to vote for two Democrat-backed bills to allow parents to prepay their children's college tuition at today's prices and to eliminate the tax deduction for business expenses at clubs that discriminate against women and minorities.
"I believe it's fine to go ahead and have clubs, if they want to, that would be all male or female, but I don't think it's appropriate to have a tax deduction for it if there's not the opportunity for anyone to attend," Allen said. "If you're going to ask for a tax deduction, you're saying there's some business benefit to people who belong. If that's the case, then you're excluding some other people who should be able to take advantage of it."
Despite Allen's occasional forays of independence, however, her voting record indicates she is no renegade.
Like her Orange County Assembly colleagues, Allen voted against extending bilingual education requirements, against allowing workers to take four weeks of unpaid "parenting leave" and against requiring affirmative action goals in any work done on a proposed federal atom smasher, or super collider.
The county's Assembly members also were united in favor of toll roads in Orange County, against increasing the minimum wage to $4.25 an hour from the current $3.35, and for requiring unwed teen-agers to obtain a parent's consent or a court order before having an abortion.
Often, when members of the Orange County delegation broke ranks, they did so to stake out more conservative positions.
Assemblymen Nolan Frizzelle of Huntington Beach, Dennis Brown of Signal Hill and John Lewis of Orange voted against the proposed super collider project, saying they believed the high-tech research effort should be financed by the private sector rather than the government.
Brown, whose district includes Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach and Westminster, had the distinction of voting "no" more than any other member of the Assembly in 1987--31% of the time. He said those votes reflect his desire for as little government as possible.
Royce's 'No' Votes