- Associated Press - Friday, May 12, 2017

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - The only Democratic state senator to vote against a California gas and vehicle tax increase said Friday that he’s losing his powerful post as a committee chairman.

Sen. Steve Glazer of Orinda said he stepped down as head of the Governmental Organization Committee at the request of Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon.

The move comes a month after Assemblyman Rudy Salas of Bakersfield, the only Assembly Democrat to oppose the tax hike, lost his chairmanship.

Spokesmen for Glazer and de Leon declined say why Glazer was asked to step down.

“He and I had a private conversation,” de Leon said in a statement. “He agreed to resign. I respect that decision. He’s an important voice in our caucus and for his constituents and I look forward to working with him in the future.”

The Governmental Organization Committee oversees gambling and alcohol legislation, among other issues. It can be a valuable post from which to raise money from lobbyists.

“I very much appreciated the opportunity to serve as chair,” Glazer wrote in a letter to de Leon. “In taking this action, I hope to advance the best interests of the Senate.”

The tax increases passed the Assembly and Senate last month without a vote to spare. They’re projected to raise about $5 billion a year for road repairs.

Glazer said he opposed the tax increases because they weren’t supported in his district. He had unsuccessfully pressed legislative leaders and Gov. Jerry Brown to include a provision prohibiting strikes by Bay Area Rapid Transit workers.

His opposition led legislative leaders and Gov. Jerry Brown to promise $500 million worth of special projects to win support from Sen. Anthony Cannella, the only Republican to support the bill.

Glazer is a former political adviser to Brown who has charted an independent course in the Legislature, occasionally breaking from his party on high-profile votes to the frustration of Democratic leaders.

Meanwhile, conservative talk-radio hosts are collecting signatures in an attempt to recall Glazer’s Democratic colleague, Sen. Josh Newman of Fullerton, over his vote in favor of the tax hike. Newman won a GOP-leaning district by a slim margin last year.

Brown was in Southern California Friday to visit the districts of two vulnerable Democratic lawmakers who could face tough re-election campaigns following their votes in favor of the tax hike.

In the Riverside County city of Jarupa Valley, Brown signed a bill to allocate up to $19 million annually to four new Inland Empire cities. That was a priority for Assemblywoman Sabrina Cervantes and Sen. Richard Roth, both Democrats in competitive districts.

Brown also toured potential sites for a veterans’ cemetery in Irvine with Democratic Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva of Fullerton.

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