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Senate leader shakes up committees

December 6, 2010 |  4:42 pm

Senate leader Darrell Steinberg began a shakeup of the upper house Monday, deciding at the start of the new two-year session not to reappoint two longtime senators to committee chairmanships.

Although some insiders said the changes appeared to be an effort by Steinberg to shore up support for his leadership and agenda, one of the affected senators said she welcomed taking on a new role that she said would be important.

Steinberg replaced moderate Democrat Gloria Negrete McLeod of Chino as chair of the Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee, naming Sen. Curren Price Jr. (D-Inglewood) to head the panel.

"It's the prerogative of the pro tem to appoint who he wants,'' McLeod said. "I just wish I had gotten a heads-up.''

The president pro tem also replaced Sen. Elaine Alquist (D-Santa Clara) as chair of the senate Health Committee, giving the leadership job to Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), an optometrist. Steinberg put Alquist on the Rules Committee, a change she said was done with her consent.

Although losing a chairmanship, Alquist noted that the Rules Committee is instrumental in confirming important political appointments that will soon be made by incoming Gov. Jerry Brown.

"I think it’s a good thing for me. I’m excited to do it," Alquist said. "We have the power to approve the governor’s appointments. Rules Committee will have the ability to shape California’s policy for years to come."

Steinberg said Monday he plans to name newly elected Sen. Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) as chairman of the Democratic Caucus and Sen. Ellen Corbett as majority leader. Corbett replaces a termed-out senator, and De Leon fills a position held by Sen. Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach), who recently died.

-- Patrick McGreevy

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