With last month’s election replacing a quarter of the state Senate, President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) on Friday reshuffled committee chairmanships and plugged holes in the leadership ahead of the new two-year session.
Steinberg gave committee chairmanships to four of the 10 rookie senators, including former Assemblyman Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), who was appointed chairman of the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee and the Democratic Caucus.
Another new senator, former Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani (D-Tracy), was appointed chairwoman of the Agriculture Committee, while former Assemblyman James Beall (D-San Jose) was named to head the Public Employment and Retirement Committee.
The assignments, set for confirmation by the Rules Committee next month, also put new Sen. Richard Roth (D-Riverside) in charge of the Legislative Ethics Committee and a subcommittee on the budget regarding state administration.
Steinberg’s removal of Republican Sen. Mimi Walters of Laguna Niguel as head of ethics comes after she became the subject of an investigation by the state Fair Political Practices Commission. That agency is looking into phone calls made by her office to prison officials regarding a billing dispute involving her husband’s medical contracting firm, which until recently did business with the prisons department.
Asked whether the investigation affected Steinberg's decision, spokesman Mark Hedlund said "The pro tem made his decision based on who he thought was the best person for the job.''
Reelected Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) kept the chairmanship of the Budget and Fiscal Review Committee, and Sen. Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) takes over the powerful Appropriations Committee from Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) who left office because of term limits.
Steinberg kept Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Los Angeles) as chairman of the Senate Governmental Organization Committee that oversees gambling issues even though Wright is currently battling criminal charges of voter fraud and perjury. "That's yet to be adjudicated,'' Hedlund said.
-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento
Photo: Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D–Sacramento), left, shakes hands with Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), after a budget vote in June. Steinberg retained Leno as chairman of the powerful Budget and Fiscal Review Committee on Friday. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press.