Senator Delgado Arrives

Senator Vanessa Delgado

Senator Delgado

Due in large part to an curiously timed Senate special election that resulted in Vanessa Delgado winning her special election (but not the primary for the new term beginning November 30th), Senator Delgado has been sworn in to an unusually short term in office.

It’s worth noting that this election almost didn’t happen. If Senator Mendoza had resigned just a little over two weeks later, the election wouldn’t have happened. California law makes it clear that if a legislative vacancy occurs after the close of the nomination period, no special election will be held and the office will remain vacant through the rest of the term.

When a vacancy occurs in a legislative office after the close of the nomination period in the final year of the term of office, no special election shall be held.
Elections Code Section 10701 (b)

In the case of the Senate District 32 vacancy, Senator Mendoza resigned on February 22nd, 16 days before the end of the filing period (March 9th).

Now, some fun facts about Senator Delgado’s term in office:

  • Senator Delgado will be the shortest-serving State Senator in more than a century. The last Senator to serve a shorter term was Orrin Z. Hubbell, a Republican who served 15 weeks in 1903 before he died in office.
  • Senate District 32 in 2018 will be the first time in California history that three Senators have represented a single Senate seat in one calendar year. Tony Mendoza held the seat between January 1st and his resignation on February 22. Vanessa Delgado will hold the seat from August 9 until the end of the current term on November 30. The candidate who wins the General Election in November will assume office on December 3.
  • With the election of a new Senator in the November General Election, this will be the first time in California history that three Senators have represented a single Senate seat (SD-32) in one calendar year.
  • At 17 weeks in office before the end of the term, Vanessa Delgado will be the shortest-serving female legislator in state history, replacing Assemblywoman Laura Richardson (who served 39 weeks in 2006-07).
  • Senator Delgado will be the 157th woman to serve in the California State Legislature, and the 46th to serve in the Senate.
  • Senator Delgado will be the sixth woman elected to the State Senate without ever having served in the Assembly are in office now. Senator Delgado joins Senators Leyva and Nguyen to bring the number currently in office to three.
  • Senator Delgado will be the seventh woman elected to the State Senate in a special election (although women have been elected to the Senate in special elections eight times; Sharon Runner won special elections in 2011 and 2015).
  • In the past 50 years, only one California state legislator has left office without authoring a single bill that became law. Assemblyman Adrian C. Fondse, who served for 35 days in 1980-81, is the only California state legislator who didn’t have a single bill chaptered.

The Brief Reign of Governor Tom

The Acting Governor

It won’t last long, but Tom Torlakson‘s brief term as Acting Governor next week will be one for the record books.

As mentioned in a previous article, in the late 1950s, the State Assembly’s Subcommittee on Impact of Enemy Attack extended the Governor’s line of succession from just the Lieutenant Governor and Senate President Pro Tempore to include all of the partisan constitutional offices that then existed.

In 2007, Senate Fellow Chris Nguyen (assigned to the office of Senator George Runner) had an idea for a bill. The idea was to add the three constitutional offices to the Governor’s line of succession that were not already on the list. He quickly recruited the help of two other Senate Fellows (Greg Sperla and I) to the effort.

Chris met with Legislative Counsel and had the bill drafted (the order was set as Superintendent of Public Instruction, Insurance Commissioner and Chair of the Board of Equalization based on the order each office was created). It was time to find an author.

Chris met with his Chief of Staff and asked if Senator Runner would author the bill. Runner declined. I met with Senator Bob Dutton and tried my best to convince him. He declined as well.

Finally, Greg met with his boss, Senator Dennis Hollingsworth. Hollingsworth was definitely not convinced on the merits of the bill, but agreed to introduce the bill as slightly-larger-than-usual spot bill (which could be amended to contain “real bill language” at some point in the future).

Two months after introduction, the bill was presented for the first and last time in the Senate Governmental Organization Committee. Hollingsworth presented the bill, which passed on a 10-0 vote and was sent to the Senate Floor. Shortly after passing Senate G.O., an short article in Capitol Weekly referred to the legislation as an “alien abduction bill,” noting that (short of an abduction of the state’s leaders by extraterrestrials) it was unlikely that a line of succession longer than seven members would ever be necessary. Hollingsworth, who had agreed to introduce the bill as a learning experience for a junior staffer, decided to let the bill die.

However, since the bill had passed the Governmental Organization Committee without a no vote, it was placed on the Consent Calendar and passed the Senate without opposition a week later. In the Assembly, it was referred to Assembly Governmental Organization Committee, whose consultants (noting that it had received no opposition in the Senate) placed the bill on consent there. It passed out of committee without discussion in late June, and the Assembly Floor (also without debate or discussion) on July 3rd. A week later, it was sent to Governor Schwarzenegger, who signed it into law on July 22nd.

July 2016

Alan Lafaso, Sean Wallentine, Joel Angeles, Mike Gipson, Richard Zeiger, James M. Humes, Dave Stirling, Steve Coony, Collin Wong-Martinusen, Bill Bagley, Evan L. Goldberge, Chris Garland, Earl Smittcamp

The Line of Succession for California’s constitutional offices

The line of succession gets flexed occasionally, with power most frequently devolving to the Lieutenant Governor, occasionally to the President Pro Tem, and occasionally even lower than that. In July 2016, it was announced that Governor Brown would be attending the DNC with the next eight constitutional officers in the line. For the first time in state history, the line of succession will go into SB 1530 territory.

At some point late on July 24th, an airplane carrying the higher constitutional officers will leave California airspace, and the reign of Acting Governor (and Superintendent of Public Instruction) Tom Torlakson will begin. Will he sign legislation? Appoint judges? Issue a proclamation declaring July 19th (his birthday) as “Tom Torlakson Day in California” from now on? Probably not, but it will be an interesting moment in California history.

Finally, for the record, in case Governor Tom leaves the state between July 25th-28th, the state will pass into the hands of Acting Governors Kevin Mullin or Diane Harkey (with Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones expected to attend the DNC and Equalization Chair Fiona Ma definitely going to serve as Vice Chair of the DNC Credentials Committee).

Footnote: California has never had a Governor Tom before. Somehow, although we’ve had four named John and four named George (and even had a Goodwin, Culbert, Romualdo and a Hiram) we’ve never had a Tom before.

Behold! The 2016 California’s Legislature has Arrived!

There is exciting news this week in the world of California legislative publications that you can get for free (admittedly, as a resident, this world isn’t that large)… the arrival of the 2016 edition of California’s Legislature from the Assembly Chief Clerk’s office.

The core of the book is the hundreds of pages of in-depth information about legislative process and history (there were 1,474 regular session bills chaptered in the year that Speaker Rendon was born, while there were exactly zero in the year fmr Speaker Atkins was born) and the history of the Capitol (there is a fascinating comparison of downtown Sacramento under the back cover).

New to this edition is a quick information guide including statistics on California’s largest cities and counties, an updated 27-page glossary of legislative terms (which omits the ever-popular “Legislative Bingo”, probably because it isn’t actually a legislative term), and a 1930s photo of a particularly smug-looking Governor Rolph standing next to a stack of books containing the pardons, commutations and reprieves that he had granted.

Those who remain unsatisfied can dive into the luxurious 111 pages of appendices that include information ranging from the sessions of the California Legislature (the shortest was the 60-minute 1st Extraordinary Session of December 1973) to the history of the flags that have flown over California (including the flag raised by a pirate who captured Monterey for a little over two weeks in 1818).