As the California Legislature approached a late-night Monday vote to extend the state’s climate-change-fighting cap-and-trade system, the Capitol buzz focused on Jacqui Irwin of Thousand Oaks. The Democratic assemblywoman was absent because of a long-standing family commitment, thus leaving Democrats one vote shy of the supermajority they needed to approve the system’s 10-year extension.
The Senate was less of a question, given that Democrats have a full supermajority in the upper house. As it turned out, the Senate passed the measure – and a companion bill that strengthens air-pollution reporting requirements – with all Democrats in support, as well as one Republican, Tom Berryhill of Modesto, who gained a concession (reduction of a firefighting fee for rural areas) he had sought.
But the Assembly vote wasn’t even close, as seven Republicans – including Republican Leader Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley – voted in favor of the extension.
In a column Tuesday, Jon Fleischman, publisher of the Republican website Flashreport, ridiculed Mayes’ contention that the cap-and-trade system is a free-market approach to climate change: “Apparently Mayes believes that when the government creates Soviet-style limits on resources but leaves people with the freedom to exist in a world of artificial scarcity on their own terms, that is not command and control.”
Conservative former Assemblyman Tim Donnelly noted in an email blast that eight GOP legislators “voted for a (63 cents) per gallon gas tax, handing Gov. Jerry Brown another victory and a massive slush fund to spend on things like high-speed rail.”
Because of the relatively large number of Republican votes for the cap-and-trade extension, the Democratic Assembly speaker “was able to let three of his targeted members, who are occupying seats the GOP would like to pick back up, either not vote at all or vote no,” added Fleischman. He called it a “a big strategic blunder” for the Assembly GOP.
The Republicans who voted for the bill seem undeterred. Some of them joined Gov. Jerry Brown at a celebratory press conference after the bill’s passage.
Sorry CaGOP whack-jobs, you lose again.