Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Democrats Achieve Partial Legislative Supermajority
Legislative Democrats needed two more seats in the Assembly and one in the Senate to once again have a supermajority in the California Legislature. Going in to this election the outlook was grim for Republicans given the fact that 100 seats out of 120 were at stake. As of now, Democrats appear to have picked up a supermajority in the Assembly but fell one seat short of a supermajority in the California Senate. The CLTA has a long history of working with both Democrats and Republicans to protect consumers buying and selling real property.
A major impact of a supermajority is the ability to change tax laws without any need to deal with Republicans. However, Republicans can shape legislation to achieve bipartisan support, often valued by legislators.
The supermajority question remains in play however. Hundreds of thousands of ballots remain uncounted, so the outcome of a very small number of California legislative races is not yet certain. Ballots postmarked by Election Day are counted if they arrive within three working days. Because of the federal Veteran’s Day holiday, the deadline for ballots to arrive and be counted was Monday after the election. In addition, mail ballots can be dropped off at polling places, and election workers must verify that that there are not duplicate in-person ballots. In Orange County alone, there were hundreds of thousands of unprocessed ballots a day after the election. The good news is that the tally of all ballots should be complete by Thursday.
A supermajority is important because a two-thirds vote requirement requires compromise on bond and tax issues. In reality, business groups focus a great deal of effort into trying to elect moderate Democrats in primary elections, so that the potential for a two-thirds single-party block vote never comes into play. Because of moderate Democrats, a brief Democratic supermajority a few years ago did not significantly change the political landscape. And changes after this election may not occur for a while. Due to the current term limit law, there will be no term-limit vacancies in the Assembly until 2024.