What Will Democrats Do With New California Supermajority?

Thanks to an anti-Trump wave that crashed across California in the midterm elections, Democrats will now have legislative supermajorities.


If you needed more evidence that the California Republican Party is for all intents and purposes the equivalent of Monty Python's dead parrot (it's no more, it has ceased to be, it's kicked the bucket, its metabolic processes have stopped, it is pushing up the daisies, it is an ex-party), then take a look at former Orange County Assemblyman and losing GOP gubernatorial candidate Travis Allen's latest "take back California" effort.

Now a candidate for state Republican Party chairman, Allen is promoting a recall of yet-to-be Gov. Gavin Newsom. This is, as a character in the dead-parrot skit would add, "getting too silly." Doesn't Newsom first need to be inaugurated—and presumably do something really bad—before being recalled by the voters that just elected him? Nothing to see in this comedy routine. But if you're serious about California politics, you needn't even think about Republicans.

Thanks to an anti-Trump wave that crashed across California in the midterm elections, Democrats will now have legislative supermajorities. That means they can raise taxes and do as they please without any GOP support. Legislators were in Sacramento this month to get sworn in, but will return after the New Year to begin actual lawmaking. They've already begun introducing bills, which offer some insight into the priorities of the new Legislature.

Expect good news to be thin gruel, but there is at least one decent idea churning. Last year, Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) tried to deal with the state's housing crisis by creating a "by-right" approval process for certain types of high-density, transit-oriented housing projects. It didn't go as far as needed, included union giveaways and dealt only with projects preferred by liberal housing advocates, but it would have made it easier for developers to circumvent the Byzantine local planning process.

Unfortunately, Senate Bill 827 died in committee after pushback from local governments and slow-growth activists. But Wiener is back this year with Senate Bill 50. "The heart of the bill is really the same," Wiener said in published reports. "We have a 3.5-million-home deficit in California. It's undermining our economy. It's undermining our climate goals. We have to be bold in solving this problem." Even as housing prices lose steam, California still has a massive affordability crisis. It's good to see this one back on the table.

Wiener, however, also has introduced one of the most troubling housing ideas in these early days of the session. Senate Bill 48 would provide a "right to shelter" for every Californian, which he touts as a means to deal with homelessness—but is an open-ended budget item that ignores the complexities (drugs, mental illness, alcoholism, poverty) of this intractable problem. As the San Francisco Chronicle noted, the measure lacks details "including how much the added shelters will cost, how they will be paid for and who will be responsible for ensuring enough beds are made available." Oh yes, those darn details!

Also on the development front, another noxious idea is making its annual, incremental comeback. One of Gov. Jerry Brown's signature achievements was his dissolution of redevelopment agencies. These were locally controlled state agencies that epitomized crony capitalism and were a relic from the dark days of urban renewal. Cities could plow subsidies into target areas and then grab the ensuing growth in property taxes as values increase, which is known as the "tax increment." Instead of reducing blight, redevelopment became a means to subsidize big-box stores and enhance sales-tax revenue. They often abused eminent domain. Brown and legislators killed them in 2011 because they diverted billions of dollars from the general fund. Now, Assembly Bill 11 would essentially bring them back. No thanks.

What would a legislative session be without the latest attempts to ban a legal product in the name of health or the environment? Six legislators have proposed a state ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products in retail stores and vending machines, echoing bans that have spread across the San Francisco Bay Area. The target is menthol cigarettes and fruity flavored products that supposedly appeal to underage smokers. But because e-cigarettes are defined as tobacco products, and vaping liquids almost always are flavored, it would amount to a de facto sales ban on them.

This is foolhardy. For starters, increasing numbers of smokers are switching to vaping, which British health authorities say are 95 percent safer than combustible cigarettes. So a policy designed to improve public health will reduce the ability of people to switch to a safer habit. Tobacco products of all types are restricted to 21-year-olds in our state. Since when do we outlaw the sales of products for adults to keep them out of the hands of people who are underage?

That idea is almost as silly as the Newsom recall idea, but given that the California GOP is basically an ex-party, it might actually have a chance of passage.

This column was first published in the Orange County Register.

Steven Greenhut is Western region director for the R Street Institute. He was a Register editorial writer from 1998-2009. Write to him at

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  1. Same thing they try to do everywhere…destroy everything.

    1. Then they flee the collapse to places like Austin and Dallas, bringing the failed ideologies and rancid politics with them.

      Trump’s wall should extend from Yuma up to New Pine Creek.

      1. Nothing California has that they didn’t learn from New York. Except hot tubs.

      2. The ones that fled north have almost destroyed Seattle.

  2. Doesn’t Newsom first need to be inaugurated?and presumably do something really bad?before being recalled by the voters that just elected him?
    It is more efficient to recall early so his replacement has more time in office. They should have put the recall on the general election ballot to reduce the costs of the recall election.

    1. New ballot design:

      (for any office)

      1. Who do you want to vote for?
      2. Are you sure?
      3. Are you really sure?
      4. If any of these guys gets elected, who do you want to recall?

  3. California has passed the one party state threshold; Democrats have taken sufficient control that there is no longer anything Republicans can do from within California to recover parity. Top two primary, legal ballot harvesting, registering illegal aliens to vote. They’re just irreversibly hosed, without some help from outside the state.

    In theory the Democrats could mess up so badly that they’d lose their grip, but that would be the Democrats saving them, not the Republicans saving themselves.

    1. Democrats could mess up so badly that they’d lose their grip

      How could they mess up so badly? When you are left with a one-party state and voters, there is nobody there to tell you that you messed up (see Emperor’s New Clothes). As others have pointed out here, messing up for California would mean bankruptcy (a real possibility). If that happens when a Democrat is in the white house, you can bet they will get bailed out too.

    2. Fun fact: The top two primary was actually an idea from a Republican office holder.

      p.s. California’s problem is that a single party system is not stable. Even if Republicans never get back into office, the Democrats will have to split into factions. My guess is the split will be between blue collar unions and the indolent progressives. But it might be between the hand wringing Caucasian progressives and the Latino and Blacks who are tired of Whitey telling them how to vote. Or any split that puts the coastal affluent white progressive on one side and someone else on the other. Because Californians really like their property values, and don’t buy into the whole shit that everyone needs to be living in hipster lofts and five year waiting lists for approvals to remove the tree that fell onto your roof.

      1. “Fun fact: The top two primary was actually an idea from a Republican office holder.”

        So was the ACA. That the other side got the bad idea first, but had the sense to reject it, is not much of a defense.

        Single party systems are not stable if your elections are genuinely free. The problem is that single party systems imply a window of opportunity to make the elections unfree, due to the lack of effective push back.

        California’s elections are already significantly unfree, in that they’ve outlawed write in votes. Expect it to get worse.

      2. Names we need names please.

    3. CA should be put under martial law, and it’s progressives dealt with.

    4. If you were to point out that they messed up you would likely be fined and jailed. Statists don’t tolerate dissent.

  4. I don’t think they’re going far enough, really. They just need to ban tobacco products of all kinds, period, for anyone, of any age. It’s really the only way to save the children. Weed is better for them anyway.

    And please, for the love of god, build more housing. If they don’t, the people there might decide to move here. For the most part, I like the way things are here, and I don’t need a bunch of Californians fucking it up.

    1. They just need to ban tobacco products of all kinds, period, for anyone, of any age. It’s really the only way to save the children.

      But then how would they pay for childrens’ health insurance?

  5. I’d like to think that the negative consequences of their bad decisions will eventually catch up to them, but the example of Detroit is always hanging there in the background.

    They could run the place into the ground, and they still wouldn’t change direction.

    1. Detroit, Venezuela, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, pre-1991 Russia?there are lots of example of the wonders of having just one party.

    2. It’s the Curley effect; If your own political fortunes are dependent on the poor, you make the city you rule sufficiently unpleasant that those with the ability to move out, leaving a poorer city that is more securely in your grasp.

      It’s proven to work on a city level, but Democrats are taking it state-wide in California.

      1. That’s been their modus operandi since Tammany Hall.
        “They’ll turn us all into beggars ’cause they’re easier to please”.

        1. They like the poor, because their votes are easy to buy. (The fact that they’re not very motivated to cast those votes ticks them off, though.)

          They like the wealthy, because they represent a concentrated source of wealth that can be tapped for taxes and kickbacks. They can be kept in line with offers of crony capitalism, and threatening to sic the poor on them.

          It’s the people in the middle they have no use for: They earn enough that you can’t easily buy them with welfare. And like to think of themselves as self sufficient, so even to the extent that they do depend on income transfers, they’re not suitably grateful. And yet, they don’t make enough money to be a convenient source of taxes or kickbacks.

          The middle class are, so far as the Democrats are concerned, a total waste of skin. So it’s hardly surprising income inequality goes up everywhere they end up in control.

          1. ^^^^^^^^^^ This

        2. At least tammany hall and “Boss tweed” were honest about their intentions. they both stated that “when they left office, if there was a dime left in the city treasury it will have been an oversight”.

  6. “Thanks to an anti-Trump wave that crashed across California in the midterm elections, Democrats will now have legislative supermajorities.”

    They had s-ms prior to Trump; get a grip. CA has been a one-party state for at least 10 years.

    1. Actually, if memory serves the Dems first achieved a super-majority in 2012. They lost it in 2016 and have now regained it. Regardless, there is little or no likelihood that the Republicans will be able to do anything about it since 2020 is the year for redrawing legislative districts and historically the Dems have been the masters of gerrymandering. All hail the great, late state of California

      1. Take it over by force. We are all in mortal danger until the progressive democrat threat is dealt with.

  7. I figure they’ll go full-bore socialist, and then spend the rest of their time trying to figure out how to blame somebody else for the resulting disasters.

    1. The Federal government will be there to save them with the big check book. Just look at what happened in San Diego during the great recession. It was almost a blip, the USG money never stopped flowing.

    2. Disaster like a $9 billion budget surplus? If Jerry Brown and a bunch of Democrats can do this, what’s Paul Ryan’s problem?

      You people are bankrupt in thought and deed. Just give it up.

      1. I suppose they are running a surplus… using accounting standards that get you jailed in the private sector.

      2. Tony, as always, forgets reality. There are lies, damn lies, and statistics. The budget “surplus” is artificial; the reality is that California’s economy is circling the drain. Don’t trust me? Forbes Magazine explained California’s explained California’s unsustainable economy in an article by Thomas Del Beccaro in its 4/19/2018 issue. Basically we are sitting on a mountain of debt and unfunded liabilities (including but limited to public employee benefits and pensions) just waiting to come due for which there is no means to pay. Singing happy tunes about a $9 billion budget surplus at this time is just doing a mindless happy dance

        1. Tony specializes in mindless happy dances. He also specializes in young boys rectums.

  8. When California goes completely broke, they will demand the Federal Government bail them out.

  9. Like a stunt pilot attempting to loop the loop at zero-zero feet, they are going to leave a big greasy stain on the ground.

  10. Here in Marin County they’ve made sale of flavored tobacco illegal in order to protect the kids. Pipe tobacco, mostly flavored, is also banned so grandpa will have to order his noxious weed on line thereby depriving Marin’s one decent tobacco shop 20% of it’s revenue. With the legal age to purchase this stuff already 21 what’s the point?

    1. Anti-tobacco has become a moral crusade against a disapproved vice. Their excuse is protecting children, their goal is to make the vice as unappealing as possible for everyone. They may not be recognizably religious, but they are moral zealots.

      1. Meanwhile, Democrats accept huge contributions from the liquor lobby, who are free to sell all sorts of flavored beer, wine, and spirits.

    2. The point is that it will create a big black market for the stuff with the Crips and Bloods fighting over who controls the share of Newpies in South Central and Oakland. Their ultimate goal of course is to make all forms of tobacco and nicotine, flavored or otherwise, illegal-Bay Area prog dems have been fantasizing about this for years and may finally get their way.

  11. “anti-Trump wave…”

    Don’t forget voter fraud or do we still pretend that isn’t a thing here?

    1. You mean the voter fraud committed by Republicans in North Carolina? Or some completely made-up horseshit you heard Hannity fart from his mouth?

      1. That magical post-election Orange County flip.

        1. Surely you can link to a shred of evidence.

          1. It’s funny: Vote harvesting is evidence of fraud in North Carolina, and just peachy in California. Funny how that works.

      2. Tony, voter fraud is the exclusive province of democrats. And Hannity, while somewhat smug, is not a liar. You just hate the truth.

        Now go fuck yourself and commit suicide.

  12. I’d blame the corrupt ballot harvesting practices more so than trump.

  13. Have an $8 billion surplus?

    1. in paper only its not real and when you look into the unpaid retirements California is screwed. its the same paper games Arnold played but he was a republican

      1. Kalifornexico is indeed screwed. since 2014 nearly 14,000 small and not so small businesses have fled the state according to business weekly the last week of August. the state unfunded liabilities for state employees , NOT PRIVATE SECTOR, is near 400 billion dollars. that leaves a pretty big shortfall.

    2. It’s not a surplus when you have a ~$476 billion debt. But I know, government accounting doesn’t work like regular accounting.

  14. What sort of projects do “liberal housing advocates” prefer in California?

    1. The kind that funnel money to appropriately-connected people.

    2. Butalist cement tower blocks – all located so that they stand as monuments to state power among the merely rich (the powerful, of course, don’t have to worry about them damaging *their* neighborhood’s aesthetics) – with centrally controlled heating and cooling systems, all built by the bidder with ties to the strongest poltical bloc within the party at the time. And with the contract being unilaterally pulled and awarded to another company multiple times during the decade long construction cycle of each building as the intra-party power struggle waxes and wanes.

  15. Continue fucking it up until the entire state is a scorched wasteland?

  16. California will end being America’s Venezuela

    1. With the critical difference that Venezuela is outside our borders, so we have the ability to keep the country from being flooded by the people who voted for it.

      The best analogy to places like California is a gangrenous limb; Not only is it rotting, it’s poisoning the rest of the body. The people fleeing California are recreating it in neighboring states.

      1. Many progressives could be useful in a large scale organ harvesting endeavor.

        1. and soylent green somehow seems appropriate

  17. Not mentioned in the article is the two more already proposed anti gun bills and we know once Newsome is in office he will have a lot more to add to those

  18. What Will Democrats Do With New California Supermajority? That is simple. They will be responsible for drawing the new political boundaries based on the 2020 census. They will now have the chance that there will never again be a republican holding a national office from the state. Neither will the republican be able to even hold a statewide elected office and very few if any republicans in the state government.
    That is what the democrats will do with the new California super majority. I doubt that there will be a republican other than a figurehead on the commission and very few independents. The majority will be democrats of versus flavors. Even worse the lines will not even questioned because they have not been accused of gerrymandering in the past so the federal courts will not have a reason to review.

  19. What Will Democrats Do With New California Supermajority?

    What they’ve been doing for the last several decades, but harder.

  20. You could provide shelter for all by simply building a 700 mile long by 6 story building along the Mexican border.

    Figure 40 feet of space for the front of each apartment, and lets say you have a 320 foot front for businesses every 1/3 of a mile.

    You’d have 36*3*700*6 apartments, which is 453,600 apartments. You’d have loads of space for businesses, and the most important for the anti-immigrant crowd, you’d have a hell of a structure to attach an impenetrable wall.

  21. Elect Maduro Speaker of the Assembly?

  22. They will have no one to blame, and little sympathy, when it all comes crashing down.

  23. Time for California to Secede from the Union and activate border patrol on its boarders. Then the U.S. Communists (i.e. Democrats) can all move to California and enjoy their Communism.

    1. Ah, just what I was going to post.

    2. Them we can execute them all in one surgical strike, and take back CA for Americans.

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  25. WE’RE DOOMED!!!!

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