By Miriam Raftery
December 5, 2016 (Sacramento) – While Republicans scored sweeping victories in the national election, Democrats have scored a major win in California. On Monday, a close race in the 29th State Senate District was called in favor of Democrat Josh Newman over Republican Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang. That gives Democrats a supermajority in both houses of the California state Legislature.
Republican incumbents had lost three key races in the Assembly, where Democrats had already gained a two-thirds supermajority.
Now, with a supermajority in both houses, Democrats can pass measures to raise taxes, pass urgency legislation immediately, or put measures on a statewide ballot—all without a single Republican vote. They can even override a veto by Governor Jerry Brown.
Although Brown is a Democrat, he has frequently wielded his veto power to curb spending or other measures with which he disagrees.
But now, power rests with the state Legislature—where leadership has already flexed its muscle by vowing to stand up against key goals of the Trump administration, including fighting against the deportation of millions of California immigrants.
A solidly Democratic Legislature could potentially move to protect state residents if Trump follows through on his pledge to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Several years ago, a bill to provide free universal healthcare to every Californian failed passage by just two votes in the Legislature, due largely to the recession and the state’s financial limitations at the time.
But with the economy rebounding and new revenues from legalized marijuana taxes soon to be flowing into the state’s coffers, the progressive state Legislature could now move to pass a universal healthcare, Medicare for all type of legislation if Democrats in control of both houses choose to do so.
With the new-found power comes responsibility, however. If the state’s economy and conditions for its residents improve, Democrats can take credit. But if the Legislature’s actions result in negative consequences, Republicans can place blame squarely on Democrats in charge.