Senate leader reshuffles committee chairs

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State Senate leader Darrell Steinberg proposed reshuffling committee chairmanships Thursday as well merging some panels to help achieve the goal he shares with Gov. Jerry Brown to reorganize state government.

Steinberg, a Democrat from Sacramento, said he was combining the Revenue and Taxation Committee with the Local Government Committee into the new Senate Committee on Governance and Finance, to be chaired by Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis). Steinberg and Brown have talked about shifting some state services to local agencies, along with the means to pay for them.


“The new committee will help guide the Senate’s reform effort to move government closer to the people, improve government accountability and efficiency, and restore public trust in their government,’’ said a statement issued by the pro tems’ office.

Steinberg’s nomination of members to head committees must be approved by the Senate Rules Committee. The proposals shift some power from a few veteran lawmakers to newcomers. Some changes:

--The Banking, Finance and Insurance Committee, which was headed by Ron Calderon (D-Montebello), will be split in two, with the new new Banking and Financial Institutions Committee to be headed by newly elected Sen. Juan Vargas (D-San Diego) and Calderon heading a new Insurance Committee. The split allows the avoidance of possible conflict of interest, as Vargas was an insurance industry executive before his election.

--Newly elected Sen. Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) takes over as head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which had previously been headed by Sen. Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro).

-- Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) would take over as chairman of the Transportation and Housing Committee from Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), who would head the Senate Education Committee.

--Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) would head the Senate Public Safety Committee, taking over from Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) who is proposed to take over as head of the Budget and Fiscal Review Committee.

--Patrick McGreevy