On Monday, Assemblyman Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, officially became the powerful speaker of the California Assembly. On Thursday, he announced how that power will be distributed.
Committee chairmanships matter for several reasons. They signal who has leadership’s blessing. They raise the profile and influence of lawmakers who oversee high-stakes policy areas like energy, healthcare and banking. They can channel campaign contributions, particularly for legislators who land so-called “juice” committees that consider bills affecting lucrative or politically connected industries.
They could become even more important. Rendon has spoken often of delegating more authority to committee chairs, saying he wants to use a potentially nine-year-long tenure to move the Assembly away from an era when power was concentrated in the speaker’s office.
Some takeaways from the shuffle Rendon announced on Thursday:
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The juice: Perhaps the most coveted juice committee position went to Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, an early Rendon backer who takes over the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Virtually every significant bill must pass through that committee.
Another influential fiscal post went to Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, who will oversee the Assembly Budget Committee.
Some other juice committee posts: the Assembly Business and Professions committee went to Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, a moderate and another key Rendon ally; and the Assembly Health Committee went to Assemblyman Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg, a dentist.
The leadership: Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, one of Rendon's earliest allies, takes over as majority floor leader. That means he’ll direct traffic during floor sessions. Gone from the leadership is former Democratic Caucus chair Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, D-Stockton, who unsuccessfully sought the speakership. Assembly members David Chiu, D-San Francisco, and Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, were also bumped from leadership posts.
The fallout: Speaker races have consequences. In addition to Eggman being dislodged from leadership, another Rendon rival, Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, lost his chair of the influential Assembly Health Committee but will become chair of the Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security Committee. Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, lost control of the appropriations panel. Despite emerging as a late speaker contender Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, D-Los Angeles, landed in the leadership as assistant Assembly speaker pro Tempore.