It’s Inauguration Day Monday for the new California Legislature. The 80-member Assembly and 40-member Senate will gavel in at noon to swear in lawmakers before adjourning until early January.
Democratic legislative leaders and Gov. Jerry Brown have vowed to defend California’s progressive policies against President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican Congress. In fact, the election results have fundamentally reshaped lawmakers' agendas.
The presumption in Sacramento had been that Hillary Clinton would win, and the federal government would stay on course with a lot of what it’s been doing — on climate, health care and immigration. That might have given the Democrats a chance to expand on the progressive agenda that California has pursued over the last several years.
But now, with Trump entering the White House, it’s very likely that the Democratic Legislature will be playing defense against the federal government. So rather than creating brand-new programs, lawmakers could focus on using some of the money pouring in thanks to the strong economy and two newly approved state tax measures to backfill programs that might lose federal funding.
Democrats now hold supermajorities in both chambers, giving them the power to pass tax increases and send ballot measures to voters without Republican support.
But the rise of business-friendly Democrats means the party’s power on paper may not translate into reality.
Democrats picked up three seats in the state Assembly and one in the state Senate, giving them supermajorities in both chambers.
The new Legislature will be more male than the outgoing one, with four fewer women. There are also more Latino and Asian members than before.