Environmentalists trying to push a green agenda through the Legislature will
face a decidedly different atmosphere in 2007.
The Senate has long been the friendlier of California’s two legislative
houses to environmental legislation, but Tuesday’s primary elections swept a
small cohort of pro-business Democrats into the upper house. That, combined
with the replacement of moderate Assembly Democrats with more liberal
counterparts, looks to have shifted the legislative landscape for
“The Senate is less green and the Assembly has gotten more green,” said Bill
Magavern, the Sierra Club’s senior legislative representative.
According to the California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV), there are
currently 27 “reliable pro-environmental votes” in the Assembly. After
Tuesday’s primary elections, the CLCV expects the new total of reliable
pro-environment members to be in the mid-30s next year, though that’s still
well shy of the 41 votes that are needed for legislation to pass out of the
The June elections have dwindled the Assembly’s moderate caucus, nicknamed
the Mod Squad, which is known for supporting business groups over
The Mod Squad, which currently counts 15 members, is not only losing many of
its members, but also its leadership. The group’s two “co-conveners,”
Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla, D-Pittsburg, and Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, are
both termed-out. Both were replaced by candidates backed by the
environmental community, including one who beat Canciamilla’s wife, Laura.
“We are excited to see people like Joe Canciamilla leave,” said Rico
Mastrodonato, a CLCV spokesman.
On the Senate side, the CLCV rated 20 current members as reliable
environmental votes–only one short of the 21 needed to pass legislation.
But next year, the CLCV now counts between 16 and 18 Democratic members as
Because the vast majority of the state’s districts are drawn with huge
advantages for one political party, the intrigue in all but a handful of the
year’s 100 legislative contests has been resolved after this week’s
The incoming group of pro-business Democrats in the Senate include past and
current Mod Squad members Lou Correa, Gloria Negrete McLeod and Ron
Calderon. Los Angeles City Councilman Alex Padilla, backed by many business
interests, also beat the more liberal Assemblywoman Cindy Montanez in the
San Fernando Valley.
“I think our biggest disappointment was losing Monta