A Republican senator's push to override Gov. Jerry Brown's veto of his state parks legislation failed today in the California Senate.
Sen. Sam Blakeslee of San Luis Obispo, brought up for reconsideration Senate Bill 356, which had proposed giving local governments the opportunity an opportunity to take over operation of state parks slated for closure due to budget cuts.
Blakeslee said the override would send a message to Brown, whom he described as California's "dreamer" governor in light of Wednesday's State of the State address, that the Legislature is working to "to economize and keep parks open."
"We have real world problems today that need immediate addressing and this is an opportunity for us potentially to keep state parks open that would otherwise close," he said.
Thirty-five senators had voted for the measure when it cleared the upper house unanimously in September. But support for bucking the Democratic governor, who called the legislation "unnecessary" in a veto message, was not as strong. Blakeslee's attempt to secure the two-thirds vote needed to override Brown's action failed with 13 lawmakers voting yes and 22 voting no. Those turning thumbs down included 20 Democrats who supported the bill last year.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said that while the legislation is "meritorious," a move to override a governor's veto is "not a decision to be made lightly." Such a decision, he said, should be made by leaders from both caucuses, not an individual member.
"This isn't the bill, this isn't the time," the Sacramento Democrat said.
Blakeslee bristled at Steinberg's response, arguing that it shouldn't be left to "two people to emerge from a smoke-filled room" for the Legislature to use its constitutional authority to act independently of the governor and override a veto.
The presiding officer, Democratic Sen. Joe Simitian, admonished Blakeslee for mischaractarizing Steinberg's remarks, and Blakeslee conceded that one part of his statement wasn't accurate.
"Smoking in state buildings in California is not allowed, so it probably would not be a smoke-filled room," he quipped.