Election Day is like my Super bowl. I settle in for the night to watch the talking heads analyze and dissect every single vote and what it means. This year’s election held even more excitement for the true political nerds out there. This was the first election with our new districts as organized by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission and the first election using our top two primary system , leaving the outcome of California Senate and Assembly races unpredictable.
Heading into the election, there was a lot of buzz around the Democrats obtaining the rare “supermajority” in the Senate. A supermajority means that one party has two–thirds of the seats in the house (that’s 54 seats in the Assembly and 27 seats in the Senate) giving them the power to pass special types of legislation, such as a tax, other urgency measures, and allow them to override a gubernatorial veto. Prior to the election, the dreams of Democrats for a supermajority in the Senate seemed within reach, but a supermajority in the Assembly seemed much further off.
I was shocked to wake up on Wednesday morning and learn that not only was the Senate almost to its supermajority threshold, but the Assembly was within striking distance as well. While there still remain some Assembly and Senate races that are too close to call, it is looking likely that Democrats will have a supermajority in both houses in the coming legislative session.
With this type of influence, the policy options available to Democrats might seem endless. That may excite some people, and scare others. However, Democratic Party leadership has been quick to state they have no intentions of using these supermajorities to impose new taxes or exclude their Republican colleagues. Regardless of how you feel, take notice of this historical moment; the last time we saw one party with a supermajority in both houses was 1933. It is yet to be seen how this will play out during the legislative session, but what is certain, it is as important as ever to make sure that tobacco control issues are at the forefront of your legislators’ minds. A great way to do that is to educate them during New Legislator Orientation, the week of January 21-25, 2013. Make sure you register today.