SACRAMENTO, CA, Nov. 10, 2016 -- California's general election this week is important in that it sets the makeup of the California Legislature for some time.
The last class of legislators under the old term limit rules are departing this year, leaving 17 open seats available in the Legislature. The new 12-year term limits in either house means we may not see another open seat in the Assembly until 2024. The Senate will see modest turnover in 2018 and 2020, however only one seat in 2018 and one seat in 2020 are expected to be competitive. This made the November 2016 election cycle critical to both the Democratic and Republican caucuses. In total, independent expenditure committees poured a record $39 million into legislative races following the June primary. Of that total, more than $23 million was spent on races between two Democrats with business groups backing the more “moderate” candidate.
Democrats vs. Republicans
Going into the election Democrats controlled 52 seats in the Assembly. As of right now they have added 2 seats, giving them a supermajority of 54. Democrats are also leading in AD 65 which is still too close to call. In the Senate, Democrats control 26 seats, leaving them one seat away from the supermajority. Whether Democrats reach a 27-seat supermajority depends on the outcome of SD 29, which is currently too close to call. The Republican currently leads by a narrow margin. If that lead is maintained, then the makeup of the senate will be 26 Dem - 14 Rep. However, if the Democrat wins then they will achieve a supermajority in both houses.
Democrats vs. Democrats
Due to California’s top-2 primary system, Democrats now can face off against other Democrats in the general election. This has created a situation where business groups must choose to back the candidate they deem to be more moderate. Due to this dynamic, there has been a recent emergence of a self-described group of legislators known as the “Mod Dem Caucus”. This group of legislators is supported by business groups and is credited with helping to stop many pieces of legislation that are deemed “anti-business.” In the Assembly, there were 9 races that involved business groups backing a particular Democratic candidate they considered to be more moderate. In the Senate, there was one race involving a moderate candidate. As things stand, the Mod Dem Caucus will have substantially increased its numbers. However, Mod Dem Caucus member Cheryl Brown lost her reelection campaign to labor backed Eloise Gomez-Reyes.
Prop 51 which authorizes $9 billion in general obligation bonds for new construction and modernization of K-12 public school facilities; charter schools and vocational education facilities; and California Community Colleges facilities passed with a vote of 54% to 46%
Prop 52 extends indefinitely an existing statute that imposes fees on hospitals to fund Medi-Cal health care services, care for uninsured patients, and children's health coverage passed with a vote of 70% to 30%.
Prop 53 requires statewide voter approval before any revenue bonds can be issued or sold by the state for certain projects if the bond amount exceeds $2 billion. This proposition was defeated with a vote of 49% to 51%
Prop 54 prohibits Legislature from passing any bill unless published on Internet for 72 hours before vote and requires Legislature to record its proceedings and post on Internet and authorizes use of recordings. This proposition passed with a vote of 64% to 36%.
Prop 55 extends by twelve years the temporary personal income tax increases enacted in 2012 on earnings over $250,000, with revenues allocated to K-12 schools, California Community Colleges, and, in certain years, healthcare passed with a vote of 62% to 38%.
Prop 56 increases cigarette tax by $2.00 per pack, with equivalent increase on other tobacco products and electronic cigarettes containing nicotine passed with a vote of 63% to 37%.
Prop 57 allows parole consideration for nonviolent felons and authorizes sentence credits for rehabilitation, good behavior, and education. Provides juvenile court judge decides whether juvenile will be prosecuted as adult. This proposition passed with a vote of 64% to 36%.
Prop 58 preserves requirement that public schools ensure students obtain English language proficiency and requires school districts to solicit parent/community input in developing language acquisition programs. Proposition 58 also requires instruction to ensure English acquisition as rapidly and effectively as possible and authorizes school districts to establish dual-language immersion programs for both native and non-native English speakers. This proposition passed with a vote of 72% to 28%.
Prop 59 asks whether California's elected officials should use their authority to propose and ratify an amendment to the federal Constitution overturning the United States Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. This proposition passed with a vote of 52% to 48%.
Prop 60 requires adult film performers to use condoms during filming of sexual intercourse and requires producers to pay for performer vaccinations, testing, and medical examinations and to post condom requirement at film sites. This proposition was defeated with a vote of 46% to 54%.
Prop 61 prohibits state from buying any prescription drug from a drug manufacturer at price over lowest price paid for the drug by United States Department of Veterans Affairs and exempts managed care programs funded through Medi-Cal. This proposition was defeated with a vote of 46% to 54%.
Prop 62 repeals death penalty and replaces it with life imprisonment without possibility of parole and applies retroactively to existing death sentences. Proposition 62 increases the portion of life inmates' wages that may be applied to victim restitution. This proposition was defeated with a vote of 46% to 54%.
Prop 63 requires background check and Department of Justice authorization to purchase ammunition and prohibits possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines. Proposition 63 establishes procedures for enforcing laws prohibiting firearm possession by specified persons and requires Department of Justice's participation in federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System. This proposition passed with a vote of 63% to 37%.
Prop 64 legalizes marijuana under state law, for use by adults 21 or older and imposes state taxes on sales and cultivation. Proposition 64 provides for industry licensing and establishes standards for marijuana products and allows local regulation and taxation. This proposition passed with a vote of 56% to 44%.
Prop 65 redirects money collected by grocery and certain other retail stores through mandated sale of carryout bags and requires stores to deposit bag sale proceeds into a special fund to support specified environmental projects. This proposition was defeated with a vote of 45% to 55%.
Prop 66 changes procedures governing state court challenges to death sentences. Designates superior court for initial petitions and limits successive petitions and requires appointed attorneys who take noncapital appeals to accept death penalty appeals. Exempts prison officials from existing regulation process for developing execution methods. This proposition passed with a vote of 51% to 49%.
Prop 67 stated that a "Yes" vote approves, and a "No" vote rejects, a statute that prohibits grocery and other stores from providing customers single-use plastic or paper carryout bags but permits sale of recycled paper bags and reusable bags. This proposition passed with a vote of 52% to 48%.