Democrats face pressure from left to use new powers


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Having won a two-thirds supermajority in the Legislature for the first time in more than a century, California Democrats are now facing intense pressure from the left as they prepare for next year’s legislative session. As detailed in Sunday’s Times, the party’s liberal allies are urging legislative leaders to aggressively exercise their new powers, allowing them to sidestep Republicans on tax votes and in placing measures on the statewide ballot.

Among the proposals are new levies on oil companies, overturning the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and overhauling Proposition 13, the landmark property-tax initiative.


Legislative leaders, however, are signaling restraint, aware that their new supermajorities will be fleeting. Two state senators will leave the Legislature for Congress next year, and Assembly members are expected to run for their seats. Also, a crop of moderate Democrats, elected with backing from business groups, all but guarantee a divided caucus, especially on fiscal matters.

Still, liberals see a mandate in November’s election results.

They cite record turnout among Latino, Asian and African American voters, who supported Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax-hike measure, Proposition 30, in large numbers, according to exit poll data.


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-- Michael J. Mishak