Members of the state Assembly tapped Assemblyman Anthony Rendon, a Lakewood Democrat, to be the next leader of the chamber Monday, signaling--but not fully ushering in--the ascent of a new generation of lawmakers in the Capitol.
Rendon will not take the reins from current Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) until March 7, and his role in major policy issues up soon in the Legislature is unclear.
But in brief remarks at his desk on the Assembly floor, Rendon looked to the long term, noting that he is the first speaker-elect to serve under longer term limits approved by voters in 2012.
"When voters extended term limits... they did so because they believed that they would help the Legislature be more thoughtful, more productive and more deliberative. As a result, the era that has arrived before us is one that's filled with great potential for the state and for this institution," Rendon said.
He said that as speaker, his role will be to "maximize that potential, by helping members develop greater expertise, pursue longer-term policy strategies and perform more viable oversight."
Rendon, who was elected in 2012 and could serve until 2024, said his election was particularly meaningful to those members who can serve up to 12 years.
"The majority and the leadership of our institution will be represented by folks who are going to be here for some time," Rendon told reporters after the floor vote.
Rendon, 47, was nominated by several Democratic colleagues, including two -- Assemblymembers Rob Bonta of Oakland and Autumn R. Burke of Marina del Rey -- who had mounted their own runs for the leadership post.
His nomination was also affirmed by the Assembly GOP leader Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley), who acknowledged he may get some political heat from conservatives displeased with the conciliatory gesture.
"Today isn't about partisan politics," Mayes said. "It's about electing a speaker and demonstrating that we can govern as adults."
Rendon offered few specifics on what Assembly Democrats' policy actions will be. He said the caucus will look at crafting a new school bond to replace the $9 billion bond currently on the ballot, as Gov. Jerry Brown alluded to last week, but said members still have to decide if they'll move forward.
He also said he believed there's a role for legislators to act if the U.S. Supreme Court rules to overturn mandatory union fees, in a case brought against the California Teachers Assn. and heard by justices on Monday.
With eight weeks to go before he officially assumes the post, Rendon described a "collaborative" relationship with the current speaker, Atkins.
"I’ve been sitting in on virtually every meeting that she’s had… it’s definitely sort of a team process at this point," Rendon said.
Still, until March 7, he added, Atkins is the Assembly's top leader: "I offer my opinion, I offer my views – but she’s the speaker."
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