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Public Policy Newsletter Article

Stem Cell Agency Extended, Election Brings Little Change to State Legislature

  • 2020-12-03T16:00:00.000+0000
  • Author: Jimmy Jackson

In ballot measure news, Biocom-endorsed Proposition 14 successfully renewed California’s stem cell agency and its research programs in a very close election. This measure makes available another $5.5 billion in state bond funding to be granted for stem cell work through a competitive peer-reviewed process. Proposition 14 was critical to continue the pioneering work being done in California in stem cell research. Congratulations and thank you to all those who worked tirelessly for its passage.

Proposition 15, which proposed to raise property taxes for many businesses by creating a “split roll property tax” system whereby businesses would be reassessed regularly and taxed on the revised value of their property, was convincingly defeated. Full state ballot measure results can be found here.

While this year’s election brought much drama in propositions and at the federal and regional levels, the way business is done in Sacramento is not likely to change greatly because of the results of the November election. No statewide California offices were up in this election, so all the action fell to the Legislature.
Going into the election, the California State Senate had 29 Democrats to 11 Republicans. The count heading into the 2021-22 session will be 30 Democrats to 9 Republicans, with Senator Holly Mitchell vacating a safe Democratic seat after winning her Los Angeles Supervisorial race and two Republican incumbents losing their races for re-election. A notable newcomer will be Senator-Elect Josh Becker, who will take the seat of retiring Senator Jerry Hill, a tireless advocate for the life science industry. Senator-Elect Becker will represent this district, whose boundaries include South San Francisco to the north down through Mountain View to the south, a very large portion of the Bay Area life science cluster.

In the State Assembly, Democrats went into the election with a 61-18 supermajority (plus one NPP). Republicans gained one seat in November, keeping the Democrats with an overwhelming 75% supermajority. A newcomer to watch in this house will be San Diegan Assemblyman-Elect Chris Ward, who is a Johns-Hopkins trained neuroscientist who gave up bench work to pursue a passion in policy.

Going forward, this means Democrats continue to control the Governor’s office while holding very strong supermajorities in both the Assembly and Senate. This is important in that Democrats can pass bills requiring a supermajority, including the budget and issues such as raising taxes, without the need to court Republican votes.