The whole state Legislature was busy last week approving bills to move California’s presidential primary to March.

Last week, both the Assembly and the Senate separately approved bills that would move the state primary earlier in presidential election years. The Senate bill would move the presidential primary to the third Tuesday in March and the Assembly bill moves it to the first or second Tuesday. AB568 also will consolidate both the presidential and state primaries. The legislators must decide on a single bill before the governor can sign it.

The bills easily passed in both houses. The Assembly vote was 52-20 and the Senate vote was 32-6, with bipartisan support. Local State Sen. Jeff Stone (R-Temecula) voted for the change, but Assemblyman Randy Voepel (R-Santee) opposed the Assembly bill.

“The largest and most diverse state in the nation should not be an afterthought,” said Secretary of State Alex Padilla. “Moving our primary earlier will give Californians a greater say in nominating a president and will also increase voter engagement and turnout in down ballot races.”