The 2015 Legislative Recap: Settling in and Taking a Breath*
by Gary Lucks**
During the 2015-2016 legislative session, Governor Brown signed 808 bills – down significantly from the 930 bills he signed the year before. Perhaps the decreased productivity stems from recent legislative term limit changes allowing members to serve up to a total of 12 years in either chamber. This expanded time frame allows legislators to settle into their legislative roles and take a longer view on policy without the burden of posturing for their next political office.
It may be that, with their new found longevity, they have more time to develop expertise which contributes to charting a more sustainable path on policy-making. As a result, these "12 year" members can focus on fewer, more substantive initiatives and take on larger scale reform efforts. The "top two" system has also yielded less polarized and moderate legislators, contributing to a calming effect in Sacramento.