Contact Form

    News Details

    Sacramento Snapshot: Anthony Rendon passes the speaker’s gavel, marking the end of an era in California politics
    • July 3, 2023

    Editor’s note: Sacramento Snapshot is a weekly series during the legislative session detailing what Orange County’s representatives in the Assembly and Senate are working on — from committee work to bill passages and more.

    Anthony Rendon is not done speaking.

    The Lakewood Democrat (not the Angels third baseman) passed on the powerful speaker’s gavel Friday, June 30, marking the end of an era in California politics. In the leadership position since 2016, Rendon is California’s second-longest-serving speaker in state history.

    But Rendon is still a legislator — he doesn’t term out until 2024 — and that means he’s not done with his work. He’ll reportedly attend committee hearings, maybe author some legislation, but not frequent caucus meetings to give new Speaker Robert Rivas the opportunity to guide on his own.

    At this point, there’s not much to say about Rendon’s long tenure as speaker — a time that saw 157 people come through the Assembly, noted Alex Vassar, a legislative historian with the California State Library — that hasn’t already been written. He led legislators through the COVID-19 pandemic, the #MeToo movement, Capitol renovations and office relocations, the Trump administration and more.

    He empowered committee chairs to take ownership of legislation, rarely authoring any himself. (For comparison, former Speaker John Pérez authored 45 bills, 24 of which were signed into law during the 2013-14 session; Rendon authored two procedural resolutions in 2021-22, according to Vassar.)

    “All decisions were moral decisions,” Rendon said in an interview Friday as he was getting ready to head to the airport to travel back home. “I think the best legislators are the ones who boil things down and make it as simple as possible and ask: ‘Is this the right thing to do?’”

    Sacramento Snapshot: Speaker Rendon looks to more oversight work this year

    Of course, none of it was without controversy. Even the handing of the baton to Rivas, the Salinas Democrat whose name now adorns the Speaker’s Office in the statehouse, was the culmination of a bruising power struggle.

    If you ask Rendon, he likens his time as speaker to James Joyce’s “Ulysses” novel, a story not marked by cohesive sections but rather an almost helter-skelter storyline. “It doesn’t seem like the same experience,” he says.

    In retrospect — something Rendon has been considering of late — it’s the pandemic chapter that changed the legislature the most. Even now, with vaccines readily available and socialization less and less taboo again, legislators aren’t getting together as much, he said.

    “Once the quarantine happened, people just got out of the habit of going out and hanging out as members. It changed the dynamic between the executive branch and the legislative branch,” Rendon said. “It very, very much changed the job.”

    Rendon is acutely aware of how far Sacramento is from Southern California — his 400-mile flight between his Los Angeles County district and Sacramento often felt more akin to 1,000 miles, he joked. But for residents like those in his district, like those in Orange County even, that distance can amplify constituents’ voices, he said.

    “The best way to cut down on the abstraction — and state government can be incredibly abstract — is to talk to your legislator, and your legislator will notice because of the isolation that is Sacramento,” Rendon advised. “Legislators are more accessible than you think.”

    Looking ahead, Rendon is looking forward to becoming a regular ol’ legislator for a bit.

    “I spent 20-some years in the nonprofit sector doing administration, and I came to the Assembly and spent three years as a legislator and loved it because it was so different than running a nonprofit. It was so incredibly different than administration and HR and budgeting,” said Rendon. “It was three great years, and then I was like, ‘Oh, it’s back to HR and administration and facilities and hiring and firing.’”

    It was a “cruelly short glimpse into another life,” Rendon said, “I’m excited about going back to that aspect of the legislature.”

    In other news

    The governor signed two bills last week from Orange County legislators, both dealing with education.

    One was Assemblymember Tri Ta’s legislation requiring school districts to notify nearby community colleges when a college or career fair is planned. Specifically, districts would need to notify community college districts with overlapping jurisdictions.

    The Westminster Republican’s bill comes as enrollment in the California Community College system has declined.

    “California’s community colleges play a crucial role in educating the state’s future workforce and providing an accessible education for Californians,” said Ta.

    The governor also OK’d Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva’s bill updating California statute with the teaching credential program local school agencies must provide to braille instructional aides. It was backed by the California Teachers Association.

    “This vital bill ensures that California statutes are updated to accurately identify the teaching credential pathway program for braille instructional aides, addressing the teacher shortage crisis, particularly in special education,” said Quirk-Silva. “Our most vulnerable students with the greatest needs often have the least qualified teachers, and this legislation is a crucial step in providing expert educators for all students, with equity and inclusion.”

    Related Articles

    Politics |

    Sacramento Snapshot: California could create ‘inventory’ of cities’ greenhouse gas emissions

    Politics |

    Sacramento Snapshot: Those who report fentanyl in drugs could be protected if bill continues to advance

    Politics |

    Sacramento Snapshot: Bipartisan effort to ensure greater diversity in state government forges ahead

    Politics |

    Sacramento Snapshot: Will California greenlight more funding for public transportation?

    ​ Orange County Register