California legislature reconvenes as new members are sworn-in

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Dec. 7, 2012 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

This week marked the official start of the 2013-14 legislative session as newly-elected members were sworn in, given committee assignments and started introducing bills. In total, 39 first-time legislators were sworn-in Monday afternoon, representing the largest class of freshman since 1966. In the Assembly, new legislators account for nearly 48 percent of the lower house – a significant number since all the freshman legislators may now serve until 2024 as a result of Proposition 28, an initiative approved by voters in June 2012 that allows new legislators to serve a maximum of 12 years in either House or a combination in both.

Marking another milestone, Democrats now hold a two-thirds supermajority in both the Senate and Assembly for the first time since 1883, giving them the power to unilaterally raise taxes, override the Governor’s vetoes and change the rules governing both Houses.

As it currently stands, the make-up of the 2013-2014 Legislature is as follows:

Assembly

  • 55 Democrats, 25 Republicans
  • 59 men, 21 women
  • 7 African-Americans, 8 Asian-Americans, 16 Latinos
Senate

  • 29 Democrats, 10 Republicans, 1 Vacancy (2 more vacancies expected in January)
  • 28 men, 11 women
  • 1 African-American, 3 Asian-Americans, 8 Latinos

Following the swearing-in, Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) held a press conference to discuss the upcoming legislative agenda.  He stated his top priorities as restoring some of the spending cuts made during last session’s budget negotiations, growing the state’s rainy day fund and retiring a significant portion of the state’s remaining debt. When questioned on the specifics of his plan, Steinberg claimed that his goal was to simply layout the framework for next year, but mentioned career technical education policies as one of his priorities in addition to modifications to Proposition 13. When questioned further on the issue of Proposition 13, Steinberg expressed support for a constitutional amendment to the 1976 landmark initiative which capped property tax rates and implemented the two-thirds vote threshold on state tax increases. According to Steinberg, amendments lowering the current vote threshold to 55 percent on local parcel property tax increases would be favorable amongst voters since it would generate more local funds and close tax loopholes.

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