Those who analyze the tenor of the state Legislature have traditionally seen the Assembly as the more ideologically polarized of the two houses and the Senate as more moderate in its politics.
That view is borne out by a detailed report from the California Labor Federation, the statewide umbrella group for organized labor, on how legislators voted on the organization’s most important bills in 2014,
Twenty-seven Democrats in the Assembly, half of the majority party’s membership, voted 100 percent for CLF’s position on bills, but only five Democratic senators made the 100 percent club, just a fifth of the party’s upper house ranks.
The highest pro-labor score for any Republican was the 76 percent of Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres. The highest-scoring Republican in the Assembly was San Luis Obispo’s Katcho Achadjian at 45 percent. The lowest score of any legislator was the 6 percent of Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, who also ran for governor last year but lost in the June primary.
The calculations covered both committee and floor votes on 33 bills – 32 that the CLF supported and one, which would have modified the eight-hour work day, it opposed. The organization said that 21 of its supported bills made it through the Legislature and were signed by Gov. Jerry Brown while eight were vetoed.
One union-backed bill that failed, Senate Bill 935, would have increased the state’s minimum wage to $13 an hour in stages and indexed it to inflation thereafter. Its author, Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, was one of the five senators to earn a 100 percent rating.
SB 935 was one of about three dozen bills that the California Chamber of Commerce placed on its “job killer” list, most of which failed. It passed the Senate but died in the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee when two Democratic members refused to vote either way. Brown had indicated that having previously signed a minimum wage increase, he didn’t want another on his desk.
Darrell Steinberg, the Senate’s president pro tem last year, didn’t make the 100 percent club, scoring 97 percent because he didn’t vote for Assembly Bill 2053, which was aimed at preventing workplace bullying. The measure passed and was later signed by Brown.
Both of the Assembly’s 2014 speakers, John A. Pérez and Toni Atkins, earned 100 percent CLF ratings.