An abundance of political ads, ballot initiative mailers, and phone calls urging you to vote are all signs that an election is upon us. If you haven’t already voted by mail, get to the polls tomorrow!
While there is much discussion about what is happening with the Senate and Congressional mid-term elections, things are also interesting at the state level. A new governor and changes in the Legislature will certainly impact proposed legislation next year.
Within the Legislature, there are some pretty close races. In the Assembly, the Democrats have a super-majority, meaning they hold two-thirds of the 80 seats in the Legislature. Several of their existing seats are being challenged by Republicans and will be close races. However, the Democrats may also flip a couple of the existing Republican seats and so it is hard to predict how many seats each party will gain or lose in this election. Whatever the outcome of those races, it is widely assumed that the Democrats will maintain a super-majority in the Assembly in 2019. Comparatively, while the Democrats are the majority party in the Senate, with 26 seats, they do not have a super-majority as in the Assembly. There is a close race in Senate District 12 between a Republican candidate Rob Poythress and Democratic candidate Anna Caballero that will likely determine whether the Democrats obtain a super-majority in 2019.
So why so much focus on a super-majority? The most significant reason involves those bills that require a two-thirds vote threshold such as tax increase. As confirmed by Proposition 26 that was passed by the voters in 2010, any tax increase passed by the Legislature must receive a two-thirds vote of both houses. It’s much easier for a political party to approve of tax increases when they have a super-majority. However, a super-majority in both houses also has an impact on legislation that only requires a majority vote threshold, which is actually by far the majority of all bills introduced. When trying to stop legislation that will have a harmful impact on California’s jobs and economy, it is challenging to find at least 41 members who will join together to vote no or not support the bill. For example, in the Assembly if the Democrats have 54 members and the bill is a majority vote bill, we have to find at least 14 Democratic legislators who are willing to vote no or abstain from voting for the bill – it’s no easy feat.
This mid-term election is important, not just for the federal level but also how it will impact California. Go vote!
Jennifer Barrera, Senior Vice President, Policy