Gov. Jerry Brown wields strong hand in legislative session, using clout and large Democratic majority to score key victories

By David Siders and Laurel Rosenhall - Sacramento Bee

Gov. Jerry Brown largely avoided publicly engaging in legislative matters unrelated to his own policy priorities during his first two years in office.

But with the state budget crisis and November ballot initiative to raise taxes behind him, Brown wielded an unusual degree of influence in the legislative session that ended early Friday, weighing in on the content of major bills and using Democratic majorities in the Legislature to get them passed.

Before lawmakers adjourned for the year, Brown negotiated amendments to legislation involving the California Environmental Quality Act, driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants and regulation of hydraulic fracturing. The hydraulic fracturing bill, which was opposed by many environmental groups, was so problematic for some Democratic lawmakers that Brown issued a public statement of support to give them cover.

The force of Brown’s involvement – especially in public statements during the end-of-session rush this week – was uncharacteristic for a governor who has traditionally refused to comment on pending action in the Legislature.

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