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November 29, 2012 | By Ted Rall
Having a two-thirds legislative supermajority for the first time in more than a century, California Democrats are facing intense pressure from the left to use their new powers, which they always said they wanted and needed -- before they got them. ALSO: Photo gallery: Ted Rall cartoons Republicans, stop the grasping: You've won GOP -- and Obama -- should stop torturing Susan Rice   Follow Ted Rall on Twitter @TedRall
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 26, 2014 | By Patrick McGreevy and Melanie Mason
SACRAMENTO - State Sen. Leland Yee, a child psychologist and veteran lawmaker, was a visible member of the Capitol's Democratic majority who most recently has done much of his work out of the spotlight. He focused on issues involving mental health, open government and the protection of minors. He was involved in efforts to regulate guns, particularly after the 2012 mass murder of children at a Connecticut elementary school, a tragedy that Yee said touched him. "As a father," he said then, "I have wept for the parents and families who lost their precious children.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 21, 2014 | By Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO -- The indictments against state Sen. Ronald S. Calderon and former Assemblyman Tom Calderon on Friday initially drew a muted response from colleagues in the Legislature who huddled behind closed doors to decide what to do. The Senate Democratic Caucus scheduled an emergency meeting by teleconference Friday afternoon, and Senate leader Darrell Steinberg declined comment until he had a chance to meet with his members. More than two hours after the indictments, the only public comment had come from Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens)
OPINION
March 19, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
A California bill to require the disclosure of so-called dark money - campaign expenditures funneled through nonprofit organizations to hide donors' identities - became the first casualty of the Democrats' losing their supermajority in the Legislature. Not a single Republican senator backed the bill, so it has stalled. And there are other important bills that will stay on the back burner unless the Democrats begin to negotiate and Republicans come off the margins to legislate again. Californians may have been lulled into thinking that partisan gridlock in Sacramento was over after the Legislature passed a number of significant bills last year, including one to raise the minimum wage, another to provide driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants and a third that regulated fracking.
OPINION
December 30, 2008
Re "End the supermajority," editorial, Dec. 23 I could not disagree more. The two-thirds supermajority required for passing budgets and tax increases is the only immunity Californians have against excessive and often capricious taxation. Even the proposal of Sen. Mimi Walters (R-Laguna Niguel), which you laud, is unsatisfactory; an annual budget growth of 5% means the doubling of the budget about every 15 years! Instead of increasing budgets, the Legislature should be looking into cutting programs that are no longer necessary, are not effective or benefit only special groups.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 17, 2014 | By Patrick McGreevy and Melanie Mason
SACRAMENTO - The Democrats' loss of a legislative supermajority stifled their push to change California's campaign finance and affirmative action laws Monday, potentially foreshadowing a return to partisan battles over their other priorities, such as property taxes, water policy and a rainy-day fund. Monday's losses come less than two years after Democrats won a historic two-thirds control over both the state Senate and Assembly, eliminating the need for a single Republican vote on any bill.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 10, 2013 | By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times
SACRAMENTO - State Assemblyman Robert Blumenfield's election to the Los Angeles City Council last week won't keep him from helping to push a state budget through by June 15. But it could complicate things later for his fellow Democrats in the lower house. Blumenfield, chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, won't leave state office until July 1. But his planned departure is among a handful of resignations in both houses that have set off a round of musical chairs for the Democrats who dominate the Legislature.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 6, 2012 | By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times
SACRAMENTO - The last time one party held a two-thirds majority in the California Senate, President Johnson was sending troops to Vietnam, Los Angeles was recovering from the Watts riots and the state's governor was named Brown - Pat Brown. That was 1965. Nearly half a century later, Democrats hope they are on the verge of again winning a supermajority in the upper house when voters go to the polls next month to fill 100 seats in the Legislature. With a gain of two seats, the Democrats would have it, putting them halfway to their goal of nearly absolute power over California's policies and finances.
OPINION
March 19, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
A California bill to require the disclosure of so-called dark money - campaign expenditures funneled through nonprofit organizations to hide donors' identities - became the first casualty of the Democrats' losing their supermajority in the Legislature. Not a single Republican senator backed the bill, so it has stalled. And there are other important bills that will stay on the back burner unless the Democrats begin to negotiate and Republicans come off the margins to legislate again. Californians may have been lulled into thinking that partisan gridlock in Sacramento was over after the Legislature passed a number of significant bills last year, including one to raise the minimum wage, another to provide driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants and a third that regulated fracking.
OPINION
November 18, 2012
It's like Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier in the Glamorous Glennis. Or at least Felix Baumgartner, the Austrian sky diver who just last month went supersonic without benefit of a plane, free-falling into the record books. California Democrats have captured two-thirds of both the Assembly and the state Senate, and it could be that even they didn't see it coming. After all, it has been just a blip in political time since they saw their governor booted from office and replaced by a politically inexperienced Republican movie star.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 17, 2014 | By Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO - Republican state Senators on Monday blocked a bill that would require more disclosure of those who contribute money through nonprofit groups to affect California elections, the first legislative setback for Democrats since they lost their supermajority two weeks ago. With all Republicans either voting against the bill or withholding a vote, the tally was 26 to 4, one vote short of the two-thirds majority to approve SB 27 as an urgency...
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 17, 2014 | By Patrick McGreevy and Melanie Mason
SACRAMENTO - The Democrats' loss of a legislative supermajority stifled their push to change California's campaign finance and affirmative action laws Monday, potentially foreshadowing a return to partisan battles over their other priorities, such as property taxes, water policy and a rainy-day fund. Monday's losses come less than two years after Democrats won a historic two-thirds control over both the state Senate and Assembly, eliminating the need for a single Republican vote on any bill.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 3, 2014 | By Christine Mai-Duc
Gov. Jerry Brown waded into the Long Beach mayor's race Monday, announcing his endorsement of Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal. With little over a month left in the mayoral primary campaign, Brown's announcement is the latest in a string of high-profile endorsements in the crowded contest. Bob Foster, the city's current mayor, and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom threw their support behind City Councilman Robert Garcia last week.  Former Gov. George Deukmejian, considered a godfather of sorts in Long Beach politics, has endorsed Long Beach City College Trustee Doug Otto.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 2, 2014 | By Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO - State Sen. Ronald S. Calderon said he is taking a paid leave of absence while he fights federal corruption charges, a departure that will cost Senate Democrats in the Legislature their supermajority and endanger some policy priorities of Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown. Calderon made the request Sunday evening, and it was granted by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento). "I will be seeking a voluntary leave of absence," Calderon said in a statement.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 21, 2014 | By Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO -- The indictments against state Sen. Ronald S. Calderon and former Assemblyman Tom Calderon on Friday initially drew a muted response from colleagues in the Legislature who huddled behind closed doors to decide what to do. The Senate Democratic Caucus scheduled an emergency meeting by teleconference Friday afternoon, and Senate leader Darrell Steinberg declined comment until he had a chance to meet with his members. More than two hours after the indictments, the only public comment had come from Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens)
OPINION
January 24, 2014
Re "The power of five," Opinion, Jan. 19 Eric J. Segall bluntly states what most people recognize: The Supreme Court is simply another political institution. The standard of "irreconcilable variance" that Segall discusses sounds good in theory, but knowing how lawyers think - or "mis-think" - even this standard is ultimately in the eye of the beholder. We should consider imposing some form of supermajority on the court for overturning an act of Congress. Since many, if not most, of the issues in which this standard would apply are truly political ones, they are best left to the legislative process, not to "the power of five.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 12, 2012 | George Skelton, Capitol Journal
When nearly two-thirds of the citizenry vote to tax themselves to expand transit but don't prevail, then democracy has gone cockeyed. If a small minority can thwart the will of the vast majority on a routine local tax issue, it's absurd. This, of course, is what happened last month when Los Angeles County voters overwhelmingly supported Measure J to extend a half-cent sales tax for transit. But the vote fell roughly a half-percentage point short of the necessary two-thirds majority.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 7, 2012 | George Skelton, Capitol Journal
SACRAMENTO - Gov. Jerry Brown and fellow Democrats have scored a stunning, historic victory in California. But they should have been careful what they wished for. Brown sold his Proposition 30 tax increase largely on the premise that it would stanch the budget bleeding - that it would end the painful school cuts and, he implied, halt the university tuition hikes. He'd better hope that's what happens and that state revenues don't continue to fall short of spending. Because voters never like to be fooled.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 10, 2013 | By Patrick McGreevy
The Democrats' super-majority in the state Senate has made a real difference in advancing the party's agenda, but has been used sparingly, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said Wednesday.  “This experiment of how a super-majority would perform in California is now 7 months old,” Steinberg told reporters at his Capitol office. “I would say that the early returns are very positive. This year is not nearly done but it is already a year marked by achievement.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 13, 2013 | By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times
SACRAMENTO - Assemblyman Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) has won a seat in the state Senate, restoring the supermajority the Democrats gained in the upper house in November. The unofficial tally gives Hueso 52.3% of the vote in a special election held this week for the vacant 40th Senate District. He defeated Democrat Anna Nevenic and two Republicans, Hector Raul Gastelum and Xanthi Gionis. The election fills one of three Senate vacancies. Hueso, who is scheduled to be sworn in March 21, replaces former Democratic Sen. Juan Vargas of San Diego.
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