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Republicans turn clock against Democrats in state Capitol

August 31, 2010 |  4:35 pm

Time is no longer the friend of legislative Democrats.

Senate Republicans called a temporary halt to debate this afternoon, slowing down the operation of the house as the Legislature races against a key deadline.

Lawmakers are hoping to vote on dozens of bills Tuesday, the final day of the 2010 legislative session. Lawmakers must adjourn "sine die" before midnight, as proscribed by the state Constitution.

That means if Democrats want their bills to get to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk, they need the state Senate and Assembly to act quickly.  Judging from the actions of Senate Republican leader Dennis Hollingsworth (R-Murrieta) Tuesday afternoon, Republicans aren't quite as eager as their Democratic counterparts to work their way through that stack of bills.

And why would they be? Most of the bills pending before the Senate -- be it banning plastic bags or modifying rules for health-insurance providers -- are written by Democrats.  The clock can now help Republicans kill legislation they don't like but are too few in number to stop.

There is an important exception to the midnight deadline: The Legislature may pass bills after midnight only if they require the approval of two-thirds of the lawmakers of each house. Thus, any bills passed after midnight would need at least some Republican support.

It could make for a very long night in the state Capitol. Stay tuned to PolitiCal for details.

-- Anthony York in Sacramento