Change is in the air in Sacramento with key departures and recent replacements in the Governor’s Office and new and returning legislators officially back in session. In the Capital, new and returning Legislators were sworn-in last Monday, Dec. 7 and began introducing priority legislation. Legislative leaders have announced new committee assignments, shaking up a few key committees in both houses. All this and more even before the 2021 Legislative Session begins in earnest in January.
Governor’s Office Transitions & Appointments
Governor Newsom’s chief of staff, Ann O’Leary is leaving to join the Biden Administration and the Governor recently announced the appointment of a new head of the Office of Business and Economic Development, Dee Dee Myers, taking over for Lenny Mendonca who departed in April. Myers previously served as a volunteer on the Governor’s Task Force on Business and Jobs and worked as Vice President of Worldwide Corporate Communications and Public Affairs for Warner Bros. Depending on which additional top Californian’s gets tapped to join the incoming president’s administration, the Governor may also have more opportunities to appointment statewide positions. First up is the U.S. Senate seat soon-to-be vacated by Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris and the state’s top law enforcer – Attorney General, with current AG Becerra heading to Washington as the Health and Human Services Secretary.
The Legislature Kicks Off the 2021 Legislative Session
Monday, December 7th, marked the first official day of the 2021-2022 session. Following organizational sessions in both houses to swear in new members, legislators began introducing their first pieces of legislation. Due to covid health concerns, the assembly was sworn-in at the Golden One arena while the smaller group of Senators were sworn-in at the Capitol under strict health guidelines – all then promptly returning to their districts. As of this writing, the legislature has already undergone its first covid set-back, delaying the legislature’s return date from January 4th to January 7th. To date, about 200 measures have been introduced on issues ranging from pandemic response, wildfires, education, and housing. With the tenant eviction moratorium set to expire in a little over a month, Asm. Chiu introduced a tenant protection measure, to extend the life of the ban. Led by Pro Tem Atkins, we also saw a handful of important housing production measures re-introduced as a package in the Senate.
Over the weekend, the Assembly Speaker released the Committee Assignments for the 2021-22 Legislative Session. In a major shakeup and a bit of musical chairs, Assemblymember (Asm.) Jim Frazier has been tapped to replace Asm. Adam Gray as Chair of the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee. Asm. Tim Grayson has will now chair the Banking and Finance Committee, formerly chaired by Asm, Monique Limon who is now in the Senate. Asm. Laura Friedman replaces Asm. Frazier as chair of the Transportation Committee, an exciting opportunity for housing advocates as Asm. Friedman now has more power to bring her housing passion into a committee previously led by a transportation-focused member. Another important change, Asms. Wicks and Kalra (both greater Bay Area members) joined the Housing and Community Development Committee. They have historically been housing champions so bring needed energy to the committee.
On Monday, Dec. 14, the Senate announced its Committee Assignments. An important change in the Senate is the recent appointment of Sen. Tom Umberg to Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, replacing termed-out Senator Jackson. That, along with changes to that committee’s make-up will bring a more moderate voice to the committee. One vacancy will need to be filled in a special election left by Senator Holly Mitchell’s (D-Los Angeles) election to the LA County Board of Supervisors. Asm. Sydney Kamlager has already announced her intention to run for that vacant Senate seat.