Rendon’s Assembly speakership sweeps in change

Anthony RendonAssemblyman Anthony Rendon’s swearing in as speaker on Monday signaled a fresh start as optimism warmed over the Capitol.

At the swearing in, the paramount Democrat drew a standing ovation from the crowd and an impassioned introduction in both English and Spanish from fellow Democratic Assemblyman Luis A. Alejo of Salinas. Statements of support flooded inboxes before Rendon’s inauguration speech was over.

Rendon is a well-liked progressive liberal with the reputation as a coalition builder, having won the support of moderates and even some Republicans (at least for now). Along with Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, the Legislature has two Latinos from the Los Angeles area at the helm.

He pointed to poverty, oversight and participation as the three pillars of his speakership, but if and how he advances an agenda more centered on Latino issues in tandem with de León and how he works with Republicans may define his leadership more.

Agenda

Rendon made poverty a central theme of his speech. He referenced the public assistance both he and his wife had benefited from throughout their lives.

“Neither Annie nor I was born with much, but we worked hard and somehow we ended up here,” Rendon said. “But we also had a lot of help. Help not just from family and neighbors, but help from California.”

Rendon often talks about how access to an affordable education changed his life, and education will stay a large part of his agenda. Having briefly led the California League of Conservation Voters means environment will stay front and center.

He helped pass the 2014 water bond in the Legislature and that, coupled with oversight hearings convened under his stewardship, are some of his most notable legislative bona fides, although he said he won’t be carrying any bills on his own as speaker.

“Instead, much of my energy will be spent helping the Assembly operate with as much efficiency and collegiality as possible,” Rendon said.

And with modified term limits in place, Rendon has the opportunity to stay atop the Assembly until he’s termed out in 2024, which would be longer than all but one of his predecessors.

Latinos

Having Latinos atop the two chambers of the Legislature gives them the opportunity to focus on issues like poverty, education and affordable housing in a way that at times could rankle those who want to protect the status quo.

For example, unions can be resistant to new ideas in education. Environmentalists (and politically-connected NIMBYs of all parties) aren’t always supportive of the development that builds affordable housing and creates jobs largely filled by Latinos.

“Now that you’re in control, you actually have the power to move the agenda forward with a more Latino agenda, which is not always the agenda of the Democratic Party,” said Mike Madrid, a Republican consultant who specializes in Latino issues and has a close relationship with both Rendon and de León, as well as other members of the Latino Legislative Caucus.

While Rendon and de León are both strong supporters of environmental policy and unions and won’t be looking to irritate either community, Madrid said he is “optimistic” that the two men have the political savvy to advance a more Latino-focused agenda that may challenge the status quo.

“I think it’s a fascinating opportunity,” said Madrid. “And I think there’s going to be a good, robust discussion on what’s in the best interest of the Latino community.”

Republicans

Perhaps the biggest mark of change will be to see how Rendon works with Republicans, who have nearly no structural power in the Capitol. Of course, he has little need for Republican support as Democrats have such a commanding majority in the Assembly.

But when asked by reporters about working with Republicans, Rendon mentioned oversight hearings, working with Asm. Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, in the Utilities and Commerce Committee and with Asm. Frank Bigelow, R-O’Neals, in the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee in asking “tough questions.”

Rendon highlighted a common desire with Republican Leader Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley to tackle poverty, and mentioned the 2014 water bond, which Rendon steered through the Legislature before heading to voters on the ballot, as evidence of bipartisanship.

“It’s important to remember it was not a one-party victory or one-party vote,” Rendon said. “It was clearly a bipartisan effort, so those are the types of things we’ll continue to work on.”

Earlier this year, in an unconventional and not entirely popular move, Mayes helped nominate Rendon for speaker at Rendon’s request, which also signaled inclusivity.

“That’s a sign that he intends to run the state Assembly as a place for adults,” said John J. Pitney, Jr., a professor of American politics at Claremont McKenna College. “There will be plenty of debate and disagreement on policy, but there is a good chance that he will be able to curb personal conflicts. It will be a very un-Trump-like Assembly.”

6 comments

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  1. Ronald
    Ronald 8 March, 2016, 08:10

    The homeless and the poor deserve to know when CARB and the AQMD will provide “transparency” of the results of the emissions crusade.

    California’s flagship climate change policy Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Initiative was signed into law in 2006 when California was contributing 1% to the worlds green hose gases. And now, 10 years later, by AVOIDING transparency of the results of the California emissions crusade, the state can focus on how to spend the cap and trade funds they receive.

    Now, a decade later, California still contributes a miniscule 1 percent ( 1%) and has had little to no impact on the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions. With many of the businesses the emit now departed from California, the contributions to the worlds greenhouse gases has actually INCREASED as no other state or country comes close to California which has the most stringent environmental laws and regulations in the world.

    Yet, the state, by avoiding transparency of the results of the California emissions crusade remains on a go-it-alone crusade to micro manage the California emissions that generates billions of dollars for the government at the expense of businesses and the financially challenged. With numerous state government agencies there is a feeding frenzy on getting a piece of the lucrative cap and trade tax revenue, yet there remains no progress in California reducing its contribution to the Worlds Greenhouse gasses.

    The public, especially the homeless and the poor that are paying dearly for the emissions crusade efforts of the AQMD and ARB deserves to know if there is any progress over the last decade in reducing California’s 1% contribution to the world’s greenhouse gases.

    Reply this comment
  2. Jon Fleischman
    Jon Fleischman 8 March, 2016, 10:16

    Funny, I actually don’t see any sweeping change at all. Just more of the same.

    Reply this comment
  3. bob
    bob 8 March, 2016, 13:47

    “Instead, much of my energy will be spent helping the Assembly operate with as much efficiency and collegiality as possible,” Rendon said.

    Let me translate that from politician speak for you.

    “Instead, much of my energy will be spent helping the Assembly loot with as much efficiency and collegiality as possible,” Rendon said.

    Reply this comment
  4. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 8 March, 2016, 20:30

    Shocked!

    Reply this comment
  5. JimmyDeeOC
    JimmyDeeOC 10 March, 2016, 11:02

    Here’s the nub:

    If you think what flows downstream from each position, a “Latino-agenda” while ensuring the “environment will stay front and center” have been, are now, and forever will be at odds with each other.

    This is pure rubbish.

    Kind of like Shrillary opening the doors for millions of immigrants while “fighting for middle class Americans”

    Reply this comment
  6. desmond
    desmond 11 March, 2016, 18:33

    Ooooooooooooo goodie, we can add Tony to the list if great Amerikans like Jerry, Kevie and Ricki Lara. Ooooooooooo. They make me all feel goodie. Oooooooooooo.

    Reply this comment

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