Dan Walters

Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
Published: Tuesday, Mar. 4, 2014 – 10:01 pm
Last Modified: Tuesday, Mar. 4, 2014 – 10:52 pm

The past couple of years have seen a steady stream of resignations from the state Legislature, for one reason or another.

There’s already been one resignation this year and two state senators are in trouble with the law and could depart. When a vacancy occurs, the governor calls two special elections to fill it.

When a Senate seat is vacated, it’s often filled by a member of the Assembly, and the new senator must resign from that house, triggering another special election cycle. Special elections are expensive, and during the months-long interim, seats remain vacant, sometimes affecting legislative businesses.

That’s particularly true now. On paper, Democrats hold more than two-thirds of the seats in both legislative houses and can move certain kinds of legislation, such as constitutional amendments, that require supermajority votes without having to garner Republican support, but vacancies can interfere.

With two Democratic senators on leave because of criminal changes and his supermajority now in suspense, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg wants to amend the state constitution to allow the governor to fill legislative vacancies, as long as appointees are from the same party as the departed legislator and are not rejected by the house to which they are appointed.

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