Here’s what one-party government looks like in California: the voters make decisions at the ballot box and the majority party elected officials shrug and move forward to overturn those decisions not fearing a rebuke when up for re-election.
We’ve seen such moves twice in the last week initially on the death penalty then on rent control.
First, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a moratorium on the death penalty despite voters defeating a measure to abolish the death penalty and, in fact, supporting a measure to speed up of the death penalty process.
Newsom figures in blue state California there will be no threat from Republicans when he runs for re-election.
No sooner had Newsom signed his executive order, a dozen legislators filed a proposed constitutional amendment to abolish the death penalty all together. Do any of them fear voters would take away their seats and give it to a Republican?
Doubtful that this one issue would flip a seat from blue to red. Perhaps there are one or two (sort-of) competitive districts that a single vote on the death penalty could have an impact but Democratic majorities are large enough and leadership has enough votes to give those one or two representatives in those districts a pass if the majority wants to push the amendment onto the ballot.
Repealing the Costa-Hawkins bill that restricts cities’ ability to create or expand rent control was defeated handily last November when it appeared on the ballot as Proposition 10. Less than six months later Democratic legislators to encourage and promote rent control and renter protections have introduced a slew of bills. Most notably among them is Assemblyman Richard Bloom’s AB 36 that would alter Costa-Hawkins and expand rent control opportunities for local governments.
One would think that the voice of the people on a measure debated and voted upon so recently would carry weight with legislators. But, apparently not when one party is so dominate that there is little consequence to face at the ballot box when they run for re-election.
The governor and legislators hope their actions will give the voters a second chance at considering these matters. No doubt, there are cases when particular issues came back to voters and the voters collectively expressed second thoughts, but that usually occurs over a longer period of time.
In the case of rent control, legislators are looking for answers to the state’s housing crisis, which is understandable. But in pure political terms, challenging a decisive vote of the people so soon can more comfortably be attempted when one-party rule dominates the state politics. That is the point here.
With the Republican brand damaged in this state, Democratic elected officials feel unrestrained in challenging the voters’ judgment.