Dan Walters

Dan Walters

Dan Walters: Republicans often find their bills hijacked by Democrats

Published: Thursday, Jul. 3, 2014 - 9:45 pm
Last Modified: Thursday, Jul. 3, 2014 - 11:25 pm

The state Assembly – with flowery paeans to patriotism – passed a “house resolution” Thursday commemorating Independence Day.

One wouldn’t think that a resolution marking the Fourth of July would have a partisan backstory. But it does.

Except for changing the date and one number, House Resolution 36’s lengthy language is identical to House Resolution 21, which was passed a year ago.

And therein lies a tale.

Last year’s tribute to Independence Day was introduced by Republican Assemblyman Eric Linder of Corona, but at the insistence of the Assembly’s Democratic leaders, it was amended to make Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton, a co-author.

Quirk-Silva won her Orange County seat in 2012 by narrowly defeating a Republican incumbent in a district generally regarded as pro-GOP. She faces a very tough re-election battle, and her partisan colleagues want to help her return.

This year, Quirk-Silva introduced House Resolution 36, which copies – plagiarizes? – the language from Linder’s 2013 measure, so she’ll get full credit for election-year patriotism.

It’s obviously a small matter, but it exemplifies a long-standing practice – majority Democrats taking over Republican bills that might have political heft.

Last year, for example, Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, R-Camarillo, introduced a bill for money to repair beaches in Port Hueneme. It made it through the Assembly, but Senate leaders blocked it, and Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, carried a similar measure to enactment.

When a first-term assemblyman, Oceanside Republican Rocky Chavez, introduced a bill to help returning veterans transition into civilian life (Chavez is a retired Marine colonel) it died in the Assembly Veterans Committee. A similar measure by Assemblyman Steve Fox, D-Palmdale, was substituted.

Fox is another first-term Democrat who won in a GOP-leaning seat in 2012 and, like Quirk-Silva, faces a tough re-election campaign.

Speaking of measures involving Fox, GOP Sen. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, devoted months to fashioning a tax break to help California win a big chunk of a pending Air Force bomber contract. Democrats blocked his measure in the Senate Appropriations Committee, however, and Fox was tapped to carry the subsidy bill that suddenly surfaced last week.

Usually, Republicans accept such maneuvers stoically. Knight said nothing about it when the bill reached a Senate committee on which he sits, other than to urge approval, and later presented it on the Senate floor.

However, when the Fox bill was pending on the Assembly floor, GOP leader Connie Conway referred to the hijack obliquely, reminding colleagues that Knight had “put in countless hours” on the issue.

Republicans are often rapped for not fully participating in legislative efforts, but when they do, they often become hijack victims.

Call The Bee’s Dan Walters, (916) 321-1195. Back columns, www.sacbee.com/walters. Follow him on Twitter @WaltersBee.

Read more articles by Dan Walters

Dan Walters, political columnist

Dan Walters

Dan Walters has been a journalist for more than a half-century, spending all but a few of those years working for California newspapers. At one point in his career, at age 22, he was the nation's youngest daily newspaper editor.

He joined The Sacramento Union's Capitol bureau in 1975, just as Jerry Brown began his first governorship, and later became the Union's Capitol bureau chief. In 1981, Walters began writing the state's only daily newspaper column devoted to California political, economic and social events and, in 1984, he and the column moved to The Sacramento Bee. He has written more than 7,500 columns about California and its politics and his column now appears in dozens of California newspapers.

Email: dwalters@sacbee.com
Phone: 916-321-1195
Twitter: @WaltersBee

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