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.
That advantage slipped away when Sen.
A proposal to expand disclosure of the sources of campaign cash failed to garner Republican support in the Senate. The measure had passed the Assembly but on Monday fell one vote short of the two-thirds approval it needed to clear the Legislature.
"I'm concerned that unless we regain a supermajority, the
The bill was a response to a controversy over $15 million funneled to California campaigns in 2012 by a network of secretive nonprofits with ties to conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch.
But "the majority party refused so they could turn this into another cheap political stunt," Huff said.
A 2014 effective date would mean that donors "do not have time to understand that the rules of engagement have changed," he said.
The bill's author, Sen.
The lack of a supermajority also loomed in the decision to shelve a proposed constitutional amendment to overturn the state's ban on affirmative action at colleges and universities.
The measure, by state Sen.
But the effort to change the Constitution, which bans consideration of race, sex or ethnicity in hiring and admissions decisions, has attracted an increasingly vocal backlash in recent weeks. Some Chinese Americans, for example, have worried that their children may lose admission spots to other students from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups.
If the measure is amended in the Assembly to address their concerns, it would go back to the Senate and again need a two-thirds vote to pass. But Republicans in the upper house now have the ability to block such legislation.
Legislative leaders announced Monday that they would delay consideration of the measure and convene a task force of academics and lawmakers to study minority representation.
Senate Democrats' supermajority could be restored this year if Sen.
Wright, who represents an Inglewood district, took a leave of absence shortly before Calderon.
But unless a contender wins outright in the primary, that seat would not be filled before the legislative session ends. And 20 seats — half of the Senate — are up for election this year. It is unclear whether the Democrats will come back with a supermajority in 2015.
Meanwhile, the lack of one is likely to hinder the redrafting of an $11-billion water bond on the November ballot to make it smaller and more likely to be approved by voters. Republicans will have leverage to make demands in that process in exchange for the votes needed to revise the measure.
A bill that would tax oil drilled from the ground in California is unlikely to pass without a supermajority. And Gov.
In the long term, the lack of a supermajority would be likely to prevent Democrats from pursuing changes to Proposition 13 — reducing the vote required for local tax increases, for example.
Any constitutional amendment would pass only if Republicans were given a seat at the negotiating table.
The legislative process is healthier without a supermajority, said Peter DeMarco, a spokesman for the Senate Republican Caucus.
"It means that legislation will appropriately get bipartisan consideration, and that's good for all Californians," he said.