Dan Walters

Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Friday, May. 31, 2013 – 12:00 am | Page 3A
Last Modified: Friday, May. 31, 2013 – 6:34 am

When Democrats – perhaps surprising even themselves – won two-thirds supermajorities in both legislative houses last year, party subfactions began buzzing over how their new hegemony would be employed.

By and by, the chatter coalesced into two competing views, to wit:

• Liberal activists saw the supermajorities as a historic opportunity to do things that had been blocked for years or even decades, such as placing a constitutional amendment on the ballot to modify Proposition 13 or raise some taxes. “Use it or lose it” became their mantra.

• Legislative leaders wanted to proceed more cautiously, aware that actually assembling two-thirds votes for new taxes and other controversial steps would be difficult, and that appearing to overreach could invite voter backlash. “Abuse it and lose it” became their motto.

Caution won out. As maneuvering for 2014 legislative elections begins, survival or demise of the supermajorities will be the unspoken issue, especially in the Senate. Half of the 40 Senate districts – those with even numbers – will be voting for the first time following redistricting by an independent commission.

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