Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Trio of out CA senators given top posts while Atkins snubbed

State Senator Toni Atkins

State Senator Toni Atkins

A trio of out state senators received top committee assignments this week for the new legislative session, while a fourth who challenged her party’s legislative leadership last year was snubbed.

Lesbian state Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) had risen to the top leadership post in the state Assembly, becoming the first out woman to serve as Assembly speaker. Faced with being termed out of her Assembly seat, she shocked the Statehouse last year when she announced she would run against state Senator Marty Block (D-San Diego) for his Senate District 39 seat.

Block had the support of the Democratic leadership in the Senate, and Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) made no secret of his displeasure with Atkin’s decision, which she said was due to Block agreeing to step down after one term so she could run. (He admitted the two talked of such an arrangement at one point but insisted he had not agreed to it, though he eventually did drop his re-election bid.)

Apparently de León is not ready to let Atkins off the hook. As Politico noted in its California Playbook email this morning, he snubbed her from any committee chair or floor leadership position yesterday when he released the assignments for senators.

She was assigned to serve on the Senate committees for health, labor and industrial relations, natural resources and water, rules, and transportation and housing.

Lesbian state Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) and gay state Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), who won re-election in November, both received committee chair positions.

Lara received the coveted chair slot of the appropriations committee, where legislation that has any fiscal impact is heard. He will also serve on the committees overseeing environmental quality, and governance and finance.

Galgiani was named chair of the Senate agriculture committee, a key post for the Central Valley lawmaker. She will also serve on the committees overseeing business, professions and economic development, and education.

Galgiani and Lara were also both named to the banking and financial institutions committee and the governmental organization committee.

Gay freshman state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), seen as a rising star in the state Democratic Party, was named chair of the Senate human services committee as well as a member of the appropriations committee. He will also serve on the committees overseeing energy, utilities and communication, public safety, and transportation and housing.

“I’m excited that these committees will put me at the heart of so much of the critical work we need to get done for California,” stated Wiener. “As long as I’ve been an elected official, I’ve been passionate about developing regional and statewide solutions to our aging and insufficient public transportation systems so that we can ease the gridlock on our streets and highways and create a more sustainable transportation future.”

Wiener added, “We also need to reverse course on our failure to produce the housing we need for our residents so that people aren’t being evicted or forced to leave our state because they can’t find housing near where they work.”

The designated committee chairs and membership will be formally adopted by the Senate Rules Committee when it convenes on January 11.

— Matthew S. Bajko, December 22, 2016 @ 2:15 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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